"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

"Southside With You" (2016) a yawner for me

We are reminded of the old TV show "Good Times" in the movie about Barack and Michelle Obama. "Southside With You" is about how their relationship began. We get the message immediately that this is an urban environment, the total opposite of the RFD TV world of Mitch McConnell.
Thus we are reminded of that dichotomy in American life: the crowded and challenged urban setting and the tranquil (at least on the surface) "country" environment. The difference really needn't be a schism. It needn't foment uncomfortable conflict. But our political world has surely descended into conflict, maybe because "money is speech" and money has flowed into both sides.
"Good Times" was part of the urban takeover of network television. This is well documented, not just conjecture. The "de-ruralizing" saw programs like Andy Griffith and "Petticoat Junction" erased. Westerns were once an absolute staple. We got the 90-minute western "The Virginian," re-runs of which now seem so ponderous and boring to watch. The rural shows were always morality lessons. But whose moralizing? Was a lot of it just superficial? OK the question is asked rhetorically.
The de-ruralization coincided with society's push, led by the young, to take a more frank, straightforward look at moral questions, i.e. to end a pointless war and to end Jim Crow. A lot of that was uncomfortable. How easier to ride along with the assumption that all our towns could continue just like Mayberry. Griffith once said that "love" was the whole theme of his show then, with Don Knotts. Other interpretations of love came forward in the sudden new wave of shows like "Good Times." Families were stressed and sometimes persecuted but they found love through it all.
I think Obama was a heroic president. He had the purest of motives. He believed in government involvement to ameliorate the lot of the needy. His community organizing was meant to lift up people who carried the weight of adversity. He gave us Obamacare even though his real preference was probably single payer ("Medicare for all").
The insurance model does not work for health care. Even if our standard of living is affected a little, we will have to pay to ensure that health care is a guaranteed right for all, what any civilized society should have. We are our brother's keeper.
"Southside With You" is an understated "first date" movie. It's pretty one-dimensional, so be prepared for that. The movie can't help but speculate on what that first date was really like. The problem is that it's impossible to look at these two people through anything but a lens of knowing who they'd become. It seems rather a "movie by committee." They had a certain feel in mind right from the start.
I'm not real enthused about the movie. Obama is out front with his smoking habit, not a good example for kids obviously. We have no doubt that the two will sort of toy with each other's feelings as they develop their relationship. The woman will seem inscrutable at times. Why does she so strongly prefer ice cream over pie? I would say this is almost sexist: the idea that the woman in this situation will seem frustratingly mysterious.
Old movies present this meme a lot. Women show weird behavior because of their hormones? I'm sorry. A good example of this was the Jimmy Stewart movie "Shenandoah." Stewart is instructing a suitor to his daughter. He conveys mystery abut how women behave, with one-liners designed to inspire smiles. The suitor was played by Doug McClure whose main claim to fame would be playing "Trampas" on "The Virginian."
McClure asks questions. Stewart tries to give guidance but it's really all a shrug. "You can't understand women." I would suggest this is an outdated meme. I suspect that Barack and Michelle communicated quite directly with each other and there was no mystery involved. I can't state this for a fact - I'm speculating - but these were highly intelligent people with a lawyer's understanding of human nature. Do such people really need to feel each other out so much?
The mystery and the inscrutable nature might seem like an essential part of a romantic-themed movie. If you are entertained by that, fine. Movies are entertainment. We all know what the date led to.
The Jimmy Walker character on "Good Times" would say "dyno-mite!"
Thanks to our Morris Public Library for having "Southside With You" available to check out on DVD.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

No comments:

Post a Comment