Looking at the people the Left designated as America’s enemies during WWII and the ones it designates today tells us a lot about the modern American Left.
We tend to have a romanticized view of the past because the good stuff has legs, while the bad stuff drifts to the wayside. In centuries past, there were innumerable bad artists producing the equivalent of the landscapes on black velvet that used to hang on motel room walls when I was a child. A lot of this stuff simply vanished with time. Meanwhile, discriminating people had enough sense to cherish the Van Eycks, Reynolds, and Rembrandts.
Even when the bad stuff survived, we still manage to ignore it today. If you go to any of the great museums across Europe (the Hermitage, the Rijksmuseum, the Louvre, the Prado, the Uffizi, the Vatican, etc.), what comes as a surprise is the fact that these museums have so much dreadful stuff mixed in with the art that’s aged well. The rich people and royals of the past were not necessarily discriminating collectors. As people still do today, they bought a lot of stuff just to cover spaces on their walls. At most of these museums, therefore, the good stuff might make up 40% of the art displayed . . . if you’re lucky.
The same holds true for old movies. TCM plays all the oldies, but only a few are timeless classics. The rest are dreck meant to grab a contemporary audience and make a few bucks along the way. Despite knowing this, I can never resist at least trying out old musicals and rom-cons from the 20s through the 50s. To me, they’re time capsules. I can sit before my TV and peer back into the world 70 or 80 years ago.
Surprisingly, this time capsule quality is especially true with the lousy movies. The best ones have a certain timelessness, while the worst ones are bad, in part, because they are unable to break the chains of time.
Just this past weekend I watched a real dud from 1944: Meet The People. The movie’s premise is that a male shipyard worker has written a play celebrating the ordinary people who helped build the ships America took to war and a female Broadway star who is interested in both the playwright and the shipyard. Dick Powell, who radiates resentment that he’s still trapped in bad musicals when he was ready to break out into mature noir thrillers, is the charmless shipyard worker. Lucille Ball, who was still kicking around as a mediocre glamour girl 8 years before she became a recognized comic genius, is utterly bland. Bert Lahr pours a lot of energy into shtick but, sadly, the writers didn’t pour any energy into making the shtick funny. It’s a cheap musical comedy without any good music or any laughable comedy.
If you want to know just how bad it is, check out this Ziggy Talent novelty number, I Can’t Dance (I Got Ants in My Pants). No patina of time will ever make this number good:
(The slogan you glimpse in the background says, “You can’t spell victory with an absent ‘T’.”)
That’s the bad news about Meet The People. The good news is that it’s an absolutely perfect time-capsule. It has shtick about war bonds and shtick about working wives and shtick about workplace safety and shtick about swing shifts, and all sorts of other stuff that, for a unique moment in history, mattered a great deal to a majority of Americans.
One of the best scenes shows Powell and Ball visiting a shipyard worker’s home where the man is playing hostess and mom while his wife is working at the shipyards. The scene definitely plays off nineteen-forties’ stereotypes about women’s roles, but it also shows a culture coming to grips with the fact that, for a while least, for working- and middle-class families, a woman’s place wasn’t in the home, it was in the factory.
Ultimately, this was a movie for and about the common man — and who could be more pleasantly common than novelty bandleader Spike Jones? If that name is familiar, it’s because many of us know his most famous song Der Fuhrer’s Face.
Even if you know Der Fuhrer’s Face, how how many of you know Spike Jones’ song Schicklgruber? I don’t many of you do, because it’s yet another bad song in the dreadful Meet the People. However, it’s a useful song for the purpose of this post so, bad as it is (and it’s bad), please watch it at least until the monkey appears:
It’s pretty easy to imagine Spike Jones’ efforts inspiring Mel Brooks, two decades later, to take aim at Hitler with the incandescent Springtime for Hitler idea. You see, people used to understand that one of the ways to deal with America’s evil enemies was to cut them down to size. Once you demean someone, you disempower them.
Conservatives, however, have struggled with this principle, because it seems rude to laugh at people or humiliate them. The Left, though, is good with ridiculing and demeaning its enemies. After all, Alinsky’s fifth rule is “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”
The Left doesn’t ridicule the mullahs. Despite the whole hoo-ha about Putin being the big menace, it doesn’t ridicule Putin. It doesn’t ridicule ISIS. And Heaven forbid that anyone ridicule Mohamed. You can get killed that way (because Islamists, of course, fully understand that Mohamed’s potency is dependent on being above ridicule.) The Left treated Obama the same way the Islamists treat Mohamed: They will destroy you if you demean Obama (no matter that Obama was treated as every other person was). You also may not poke fun at David Hogg or his ilk.
So who are the Left’s enemies if not Putin, the Mullahs, or ISIS? Trump, “tea-baggers,” “Chimpy-Bush Hitler,” and other conservative Americans. We are the enemy. Once it was Hitler. Now it’s down to you and me.
Don’t believe me? Look at England:
— PragerU (@prageru) May 7, 2018