Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Professor Harold Hill, prototypical Republican?
I was having an e-mail conversation with my occasional posting partner, Philm Phan, the other day regarding the classic musical, “The Music Man”. Or, “Meredith Wilson’s, The Music Man”, as listed in the Internet Movie Database. It’s a fun movie, a slice of “Americana” in several different ways. It reflects not only some of the aspects of life in Middle America at the turn of the century (the last turn, not this latest one), but also some of the aspects of America as captured by the movies in the 1960’s.
The conversation turned to one of the main characters of the film, Professor Harold Hill. It occurred to me that this guy is about as prototypical a Twenty First Century Republican as you can get. First, he’s a fast talker, a con artist, willing to sell you anything at all in order to make a fast buck. That’s his entire concept of his life. His modus operandii, as he goes into the small towns and cities around America, is to cause confusion and panic about an issue that had never been an issue before and then, magically, present the locals with a solution to this new problem. In the case of the film, a pool table. Dire things are predicted to happen if this is allowed to occur (e.g., jockeys riding directly on race horses instead of on trotting carriages, boys buckling their knickerbockers below the knees) unimpeded. The day previous to Hill’s arrival, people had not considered a pool table much of a concern. After his arrival, it had taken on all aspects of a catastrophe that’s just seconds away from occurring. He is willing to say anything, including falsifying his credentials (Gary Conservatory of Music, Ought Five), to back up his outlandish claims. And, of course, he has the perfect plan to make all their concerns and worries about this thing that had never been a concern or worry to them prior to his arrival go away. He has “the answers”. He’s willing to “sweet talk” anyone he needs to that holds a position of influence (e.g., the librarian, the librarian’s mother, the city council, the mayor’s wife) to “grease the skids” of his plan.
Do you see where I am going with this?
To continue, his solution consists of a lot of promises yet to be fulfilled, full of nice, bright, shiny things that enthrall anyone and everyone (except the extremely skeptical). And, the final touch is that his promise of this new, shiny thing that will take away everyone’s worries about all those terrible things that were going to happen as a result of a terrible issue that had never been an issue before, is based on something he refers to as the “Think System”. You see, it isn’t necessary to actually do the planning and work required to set up and produce something as intricate as a boy’s marching band. No one actually has to take music lessons to play their brand new instruments that Professor Hill has sold them. No, all you have to do is “think” that you can play them, and magically, you can! All you have to do is believe! That is all that is required! Ask no further questions, because all you will get is the runaround. Obfuscation is the order of the day for Prof. Hill.
There is also that issue of Professor Hill looking really, really gay, prancing around in a pretty gaudy drum major outfit. That doesn’t quite fit in with my premise about Repub… Wait a second. Actually, it does. Never mind.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have all been sold a bill of goods. We have bought those nice, bright shiny things, like overt patriotism as a litmus test, the war in Iraq, the shredding of the Constitution in order to provide “security”, the overt politicization of the Justice Department, and on and on, by someone who inflated his credentials (the “War President” because he may or may not have served in the National Guard in Alabama during the Vietnam War, i.e., the Gary Conservatory of Music, Ought Five) based on nothing more than… the Think System! All we need to do is to Think that all this stuff is true, and viola! It is!
The biggest difference is that real life isn’t a musical and there won’t be a huge marching band coming down the street at the end when the credits start rolling.
UPDATE: You know, I am not saying that Keith Olbermann or his staff at Countdown on MSNBC read this or any other blogs. I do find it interesting that, after this particular post of mine, Keith started referring to Glenn Beck as "Harold Hill" quite often on his show. Of course, this idea was just sitting out there for anyone to pick up. I'm not saying I was the first and won't be the last. I just found it interesting. That happened with one other of my posts as well. If they are using ideas from people's blogs, it would be nice to give them some credit...