March 3, 2009

I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad

Hat-tip to Priyanka for leading me to a short video review of the 1940 movie version of Steinbeck's famous novel, The Grapes of Wrath, which led me to this excerpt from an article by Jaime O'Neill.

But here's Tom Joad, a different kind of Okie from a different time, saying farewell to his mother as the novel draws to a close:  "Ma, I've been thinkin' a hell of a lot, thinkin' about our people livin' like pigs an' the good rich lan' layin' fallow, or maybe one fella with a million acres, while a hunderd thousan' good farmers is starvin'."
And what conclusions does Tom Joad come to with all that thinking he's been doing? Does he conclude that we need massive tax breaks for the richest 1% of the population? Does he arrive at the idea that standing alone against powerful forces that would bring working people down is the best way to go? Or that blocking minimum wage increases for working people, and allowing the exportation of more jobs overseas will solve the nation's problems? Does he come to think that offshore tax shelters, mega corporations, deregulation, and monopolies are good for Okies, and the rest of the country, too? Does he come to think that government exists merely to serve Enron and other corporate political donors? Does he reach the conclusion that only the children of working people should fight our wars, and pay for them, too, by passing on the debt for those wars to their children? Does Tom Joad figure out that, when it comes to the greatest good for the greatest number, the Republicans have it all figured out?

Not exactly. What Tom Joad comes up with is this:"Wherever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there...I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an'˜ I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready. An' when our folks eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build˜why I'll be there."

Somehow, those just don't sound like words that are ever going to find their way into the platform of the Republican Party. And, with big money buying up more and more of the political process, it's getting harder and harder to expect such sentiments to turn up in the Democratic Party platform, either.
Like A. O. Scott says in the video review: " I never thought that the Grapes of Wrath would strike me as the most topical movie for right now. But here we are -- people are losing their homes, losing their jobs, losing everything and nobody knows exactly who is to blame."

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