Jingo Killah

I am not a pacifist. I am Jingo Killah.

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We explore the eternal question: What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?

Was watching It’s a Wonderful Life with my Dad the other night. Yunno, I don’t think I’ve seen the whole thing all the way thru, ever. It comes on, and I watch some of it, or I watch it to the end. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the opening credits. It’s ironic, even though it’s an American classic beloved by all, it really has a sort of ‘indie film’ feel to it – very abstract, non-linear, even a little conceptually challenging. I wouldn’t be surprised if this movie was a first step in Charlie Kaufman’s path to screenwriting.

Anyway, two ironies struck me as I was watching this.

One is simple, you’ve probably already guessed it, and I’m sure it’s hit a lot of other casual watchers this year. George Bailey’s idealism about community, real estate, money, trust, and true personal wealth, is dramatically contrasted with Potter’s… well, pure unrepentant evil. This story is presented year after year as a symbol of American values, an intersection where economy and humanity meet. It’s not a sub-plot, by any stretch… the penultimate scene where Bailey is running thru the streets shouting Merry Christmas to various bits of real estate, reveals that the town itself is as important to George as the people in it. Anyway, irony one – contrast with the rampant Potterism all around us at this time. Where is our George Bailey, our honest, passionate, people’s economist? The final scene, as the savings and loan gets its homespun bailout from the townspeople, was the bow on this perfectly packaged box of irony.

The second – Jimmy Stewart was a life-long Republican. I-rony! George Bailey is practically a socialist. Potter is a perfect caricature of a rapacious greedhead Repub. The film, of course, makes no political overtures, but if this movie ever inspired people to be more compassionate, or think about the welfare of all people, then George Bailey may have inspired more than a few proto-Democrats along the way. I wonder if Jimmy Stewart ever reflected on that?

Of course, the more cynical of us might reflect on the major ironic flaw of the movie – the fact that George Bailey lived an extraordinary good life before his moment of doubt. So, what of the people who didn’t? The parody’s been done before, of course (I think by Family Guy? amongst others), but what to say for the people who might be on the bridge, wishing they’d never been born, and a guardian angel comes down and says, “Yeah, the world would have been a better place without you.” If I had the dough, I would commision a short parody with Blagojevich as Bailey. “Look, a children’s hospital was built in this empty lot! Timmy got to see his sixth Christmas! He’s going to grow up to be President! But because you were born, and because you are a fucking asshole, Timmy died.” And then the guardian angel reveals himself to be the angel Lucifer, and gently guides Rod home. Isn’t that heartwarming?

2 Responses to “Every time I say the word irony, an angel gets his wings”

  1. Further irony: the person who introduced me to the film is herself a rabid right-wing Republican. I would go so far as to say that a large percentage of the film’s contemporary audience are Republicans. Dollars to donuts nobody ever takes a moment to think that they root for Bailey but vote for Potter every 4 years.

    … and I’m done to death with the takeoffs of the ending. I just saw it on an episode of Maya and Miguel on Christmas Eve and I wanted to poke my eyes out with a bell clapper. Between this and O. Henry’s Gift of the Magi, it’s probably provided the ending to more shitty shows than any other source. DIAF, already.

    Chris Lepore

  2. You can’t beat the SNL missing scene parody, though, can you? I would be posting it here but the NBC video tomb is being uncooperative. You’ve seen it, though, right?

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