Thursday, November 15, 2012

Getting Straight

"Getting Straight" is a classic movie. And, one that is incredibly relevent for today, especially in this election.  Set in 1970, at the height of the Vietnam War protests, Elliot Gould is fabulous in what I think was his best role ever. He is a Vietnam vet: a Navy Corpman, having served with the Marines. He plays the part of an idealistic, very verbal, slightly older graduate student. I first saw this movie years and years ago. And, one of the unintended consequences for today is that it reinforced my belief in what has happened to us as a culture.  We have become a less involved people, willing to accept events like Iraq and Afghanistan without blinking an eye. We no longer have a draft and the country is not invested in our military. Our culture has basically shifted from one of interest in "land of the free and home of the brave" to one of making money and creating wealth. In "Getting Straight", an idealistic student body railed against the war and protested for what they perceived was a lack of basic equality. On every hand, Harry, played by Elliot Gould, presented a practical approach, even contrary to what he believed. His goal was to become a teacher and he kept trying to sacrifice the real person of who he was to reach that goal. Realizing it was not going to happen, in a "what the hell" moment, he threw in the towel, with some dramatics of course. 

The last scene is one of the best I've ever seen. The stereotypes, a dozen or so, are sitting around a table as he takes his "orals" for his masters. He finally explodes with what he truly thinks. So relevant. Today, there is no approach like "Getting Straight," no real idealism rather how to become a 1%er. 

There are many reasons why "Getting Straight" won't happen today. It isn't only a loss of idealism but the country has become too big, too unwieldy, too partisan, meaning selfish. It is why a "Getting Straight" concept would be  important in this election. But, it won't happen. No politician will say what they truly mean (it is why Governor Christie of New Jersey was so refreshing as relating to the awful devastation of Sandy. He said, "f..k politics, my people are in need.")

The Presidency and the Democrats are the best chance of capturing some of the magic of the "Getting Straight" time, I believe. But, even if they wanted too, the political courage is simply not there. We are f..ked. 

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