Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Again

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This Time With The Web Press


Under the Microscope
by Glynn Wilson

The crickets fill the night air outside with their incessant mating tune, playing their bent legs like tiny violins. Otherwise the suburbs appear to be locked down and fast asleep, as the Homeland Security Department and the Birmingham Police like it. The headlines are up on the news page, and the Facebook comments are slowing down.

It is time to shut down two of three computers, all connected to the Internets, time to crack open the third Yuengling Black and Tan, and head over to the Strat-o-Lounger to catch up on some TeeVee.

Surfing first the news channels, mostly MSNBC but checking in on CNN and Fox. Then the free movie channels. Then the premium pay jobs, often peddling the same old fare.

But there on the Turner Classic Movie channel, running without commercials, was that old 1939 American classic: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

The other choices being not so great, I figured what the hell, it’s been awhile, and you know, the political situation being what it has been for the past eight and a half years and all, with some obvious recent improvements, it might be worth another viewing.

As I type this, the following day, the talking heads are discussing a so-called “teachable moment” out of the Cambridge PD. I don’t know about wasting precious news and political time talking about the arrest of a Harvard professor, who just happens to be black. Hey, leave it to me and I say screw the cop. Fire the bastard. But Obama has to make nice, and we understand why. They will make nice at the White House, and then onto New York for the book and movie deal.

Who cares.

Here’s a teachable idea. For all of us worried about the major problems with American capitalism and democracy and the law and the press, minorities or not, re-watch this movie any way you can get your hands on it. Think of it as a sort of booster shot. A dose of courage that can only come from film.

It you are one of us who still believe in the possibility of a free and peaceful world, somehow, who cling to the one small hope that we still have a chance, a little more time, to solve the problems that may lead to our extinction as humans, not just conquer the fear of being shot walking down the street as individuals, watch it.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is an American 1939 comedy/drama film starring James Stewart and Jean Arthur about one man’s effect on American politics, according to Wikipedia, a good starting point for research. Directed by Frank Capra in his last film for Columbia Pictures, and written by Sidney Buchman based on Lewis R. Foster’s unpublished story, the film was controversial upon its release yet successful at the box office.

It made Stewart a major movie star and was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, winning for Best Screenplay. In 1989, the Library of Congress added it to the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

It was controversial at the time, on the eve of World War II, and well it should have been. Who knows if it would have a chance of being released by the major American studios today? Is there a such thing as profound and powerful art that is not provocative, that does not speak to the themes of the time?

I highly recommend it for my friends all over the world who fight every day in big and small ways to preserve something of American-style democracy, in the face of the power and wealth of today’s corporate machines that make big Jim Taylor’s little land graft and creek damming schemers look like redneck monkeys at the peanut trough in the cheapest small town zoo in the land.

You know who I’m talking about.

The heroes in this film include Jefferson Smith, the unlikely Boy Ranger leader named as a patsy senator to replace a dead man, as well as his Washington secretary, Clarissa Saunders, along with a hard drinking Irish reporter and a troupe of boy scouts.

Why this is interesting now is because if you watch it and think about it knowing what we have all been through over the past decade, especially if you have taken the time to read a few of the stories about the problems in Washington and how newspapers are dying across America, the real hero in this movie in a big way is the printing press.

You can read all about it on the Wikipedia page, and I encourage it especially for the after matter about the controversies.

The teachable moment for today, however, is this.

There are no more courageous Americans using printing presses to save democracy and stand up for the little guy anymore. They have all been bought out by corporate chains way larger than Taylor’s monopoly operation on newspapers and radio stations in his home state portrayed back when.

Today, the heroes printing the truth are doing it on the Web Press, and there are still stories yet to tell that rival the David and Goliath battle Jefferson Smith and those Boy Rangers fought and won against corrupt power in 1939, if only on film.

My environmentalist friends should especially like it, although they may wish for a longer ending, one showing Whittle Creek in its pristine state, with boys camping out — and no dam.

You can now catch the full version at Google videos.

Watch it.

Then think about it.

Then, support that, people. Support the Web Press, and by dog, we will save more rivers yet…

© 2009 – 2015, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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