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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Ah, the good old days, when the poor knew to be noble...and invisible
Posted by Jill | 4:34 PM

Via the inimitable and priceless James Wolcott, here's excerpts from what may be the most astounding movie review you'll ever read -- and a peek inside how wingnuts regard the poor (emphases mine):

Braddock is no ball of fire. He's not motivated by a passion for boxing, like Maggie in last fall's hit, Million Dollar Baby. He doesn't even have the horsy competitiveness of Seabiscuit, subject of Hollywood's last inspirational-underdog-of-the-Depression venture. If Braddock is an underdog, he wears it well: He's doglike in his loyalty, gentleness, and nobility of spirit. When life gives him a kick in the pants, he accepts it uncomplainingly; When it tosses him a bone, he's sincerely grateful.

How grateful is shown by a scene midway through. Things have gotten so tough for Jim and his wife Mae (Renee Zellwegger) that they can no longer keep their three children at home; without money for grocery and heating bills, the kids are getting sick. (In an earlier scene, we had seen Mae stretching a bottle of milk by adding water.) The children are farmed out to live with extended family. Regretfully, Braddock goes down to the relief office and signs up for the dole so he can bring them home. But then he wins a fight, and returns to the same office. He plops down a roll of bills in front of the cashier. Later, when a reporter asks him about this, he shrugs it off. "This is a great country, a country that helps a man when he's in trouble. I thought I should return it."


Cinderella Man is not really a movie about boxing, it's a movie about what it means to be a man. In the character of Jim Braddock, we can read what today's audiences are wistful for: a man who works hard to support his wife and kids, who teaches his kids to be honest, who communicates his delight in his wife with every glance. As Mae says to Jim in a late scene, "You're the Bulldog of Bergen, the Pride of New Jersey, you're everybody's hope, you're your kids' hero, and the champion of my heart." Do they make them like that any more?

So let me see: This is a great movie because it depicts a guy who carries himself like a kicked-from-pillar-to-post dog, who lives in grinding, utter poverty without complaining (and seemingly without trying to do anything other than box in order to earn a living), and who is too proud to keep the money his family needs, instead putting his life in danger having a bunch of palookas beat him senseless in order to bring home the gruel.

In this mindset, Oliver Twist would be liberal propaganda, because poor Oliver, a hungry child, has the audacity to ask for more.

Yes, folks, THIS is the society Republicans and conservatives want -- one in which the rich live behind opulent gates, watching the poor beat each other senseless for money; one in which the government doesn't help out; instead providing only the most meager help for those who are down-and-out because rich speculators ran the economy into the ground.

I haven't seen Cinderella Man yet; I'm still recovering from the crock o'shit that was Million Dollar Baby, but I have a feeling I'm going to have to -- if only to counterbalance bullshit like this.
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