Friday, February 03, 2012

It's a Wonderful Life...A danger to economic conservatives indeed

I love the poster Sadly No!'s blog post includes with the smackdown of the right winger who ripped into "It's a Wonderful Life."

When I read the right winger's article, I was struck by how he used quotes for statements George Bailey never said. Weird, that. And I was also struck that the fellow is so intent on making his point that he forgets Potter, the businessman, had refused to acknowledge that he had received the $8,000 for the Bailey Building & Loan's bank deposit in Potter's bank, but then falsely swore out the criminal arrest of George Bailey and his Uncle Billy for criminal embezzlement.

The irony of the right winger's poorly written article is that he is correct about his main theme: "It's a Wonderful Life" is one of the greatest Marxist analyses ever to come out of Hollywood. It is not the "Communist Manifesto" sort of Marxism, nor is it the Leninist or egad, Stalinist interpretation, either. Instead, the film's actual dialogue and plot represent a much more serious, scholarly Marxism. A Marxism which reveals the hidden human power and relationships behind what would appear to be objective money relations, the cultural effects of a capitalist economy (particularly Daniel Bell's thesis that libertine behavior often arises from an excess of money as much as a lack of money), and how important it is for non-wealthy citizens to band together to challenge individual or oligarchical wealth and power.

George Bailey was important because of his position of authority in the countervailing collective institution in the town, i.e. the co-operative largely non-profit building and loan. Had Bailey been his same nice guy but been the taxi driver, for example, the town would have still become "Pottersville," as in the nightmare alternative history scenes near the end. I love, for example, how, in "Pottersville," the Building & Loan becomes the location of a burlesque oriented nightclub, and the movie house is reduced to a strip joint. When the movie house is back in the time of George Bailey and the building and loan, the movie house is playing "Bells of St. Mary's."

Still, it's nice to see certain right wingers reveal their fangs against traditional values and embrace the lying, corrupt Potter as their own. Also, the manner in which the article is written, with the use of false dialogue and poor reasoning, is also emblematic of the tone and structure of the American economic conservative's increasingly desperate narrative--especially as we all increasingly begin to live in Pottersville.

Final thought: If I could find that poster for purchase and framing, I would love it! The irony and pathos of it is truly remarkable. It is somewhat akin in its ironic style to the infamous "F---K Communism" poster from Paul Krassner and The Realist magazine in the 1960s.


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