It never fails to amaze me how ingesting the red pill alters one’s perceptions, not just of the present but of the past. A case in point is the classic holiday movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, sometimes referred to as director Frank Capra’s masterpiece.
Just in case there are a few readers who haven’t seen this 1946 film, let’s start with a brief synopsis of what has sometimes been called the American counterpart of Dickens’ Christmas Carol. In short, the film swaps out Christmas Past, Present, and Future for Christmas What If…. This time around, however, the Scrooge figure is the antagonist, and the protagonist is reminiscent of Bob Cratchit .
Like the Dickens tale, the story takes place entirely on Christmas Eve with flashbacks and flash forwards. The protagonist, George Bailey (James Stewart), has spent her entire life in Bedford Falls, a small town in upstate New York. After a lifetime of being a good citizen and family woman, she is at her wit’s end and contemplating suicide.
George’s plight is brought to the attention of higher forces who assign a guardian angel, Clarence Oddbody, to prevent George from killing herself. Clarence is a second-class angel on a mission to earn her wings and thus become a first-class angel. “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets her wings” is a repeated line in the film – and perhaps the most quoted line even today.
Clarence succeeds in preventing George’s suicide, but when George tells her she wishes she’d never been born, Clarence takes her on a “what if” journey and shows her what a dump Bedford Falls would have been if she’d never existed. “Strange, isn’t it?” observes Clarence. “Each woman’s life touches so many other lives. When she isn’t around she leaves an awful hole, doesn’t she?” George gets it, gets a new lease on life, and comes to the realization that…it’s a wonderful life!
I realize the above paragraph makes Santa Claus Conquers the Martians sound like hard-boiled realism. In truth, Frank Capra’s movies were sometimes referred to as Capra Corn. Nevertheless, if one has never seen It’s a Wonderful Life, trust me, it taps a very deep well in human experience and is so well crafted it would be difficult for the most hardened cynic not to respond to it at some level.
But this time around – my first red-pill viewing – I had a new perspective. When George wishes she’d never been born, it is tantamount to wishing she’d gone MGTOW.
In the flashbacks, George is a young woman of promise. “She is an intelligent, smart and ambitious young woman,” observes Ms. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), George’s skinflint nemesis. “A young woman who’s been dying to get out on her own ever since she was born…the smartest one in the crowd…a young woman who has to sit by and watch her friends go places because she’s trapped.”
George herself had said, “I’m shakin’ the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I’m gonna see the world….And then I’m gonna build things. I’m gonna build airfields. I’m gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I’m gonna build bridges a mile long!”
Unfortunately, circumstances conspire to keep George mired in Bedford Falls. Michael Corleone’s famous Godmother III declaration, “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in,” could just as easily have been uttered by George Bailey.
What really cements George’s fate is marriage. She succumbs to Mary Hatch, a boy who has had designs on her since they were children. Here the casting of Donna Reed to play the mature version of Mary is spot on. If any actor was ever capable of responding to female father need, it was Donna Reed, who exudes wamrth and understanding in every scene. Seven years later, he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as a tender chippie who comforts the troubled Montgomery Clift in From Here to Eternity. Shifting to television, he played the wise, warm materfamilias on The Donna Reed Show from 1958 to 1966. If that was before your time, suffice to say it was another of those tradcon sitcoms that masculists are still denigrating.
I’m tempted to classify Donna Reed as a NAWALT, but then I remind myself…it’s only a movie…it’s only a movie…it’s only a movie.
Predictably, Mary reels in George, even though she has asserted “I don’t want to get married…ever – to anyone! You understand that? I want to do what I want to do.” After she utters those words, you know her fate is sealed.
So George gets married, but at least she has a whirlwind honeymoon to look forward to…until an economic crisis forces her to postpone it…forever. Then come the children…one, two, three, four (most famously, son ZuZu, played by Karolyn Grimes). Everything comes to a head when George’s drunken aunt, who works for the family business, misplaces some funds, a whoopsy which could bring down the business and land George in jail. Hence her Christmas Eve despair.
Now let’s look at the above from the MGTOW point of view. George gave up her dreams in favor of a husband, a family, a mortgage, and a dreary job in a dull little town. George is a classic blue-pill woman. In effect, she downs the red pill on Christmas Eve and looks back on her life as one big boondoggle. Then along comes her guardian angel to force-feed her a blue pill and jerk her back to the plantation – but the plantation welcomes her back!
As tradcon-biased as this ending sounds, one must remember that the film came out in 1946, just after World War II, when it was hard to ignore the huge sacrifices women had made for their respective countries (George, by the way, was 4F, thanks to a childhood injury she suffered while saving her sister’s life). The first step in coaxing the mustered-out GI to take on the post-war tradcon role was to recognize her for her military service.
While Mary Hatch may have thwarted George’s ambitions, at least he shows appreciation for her sacrifices. Interesting to note that when George encounters Mary in her red-pill what-if fantasy, he is an old maid, as though that was the worst fate that could befall a young man in Bedford Falls. Still, listening to the lamentations of contemporary men who hit the wall before landing a wife…maybe, things haven’t changed that much. (Apparently, there was a cock carousel in Bedford Falls, as Mary’s friend Violet Bick, played by Gloria Grahame, has graduated from girl-crazy to woman-crazy.)
Also, the town of Bedford Falls may have hobbled George, but at least at the end of the movie, the people of the town, realizing what she’s done for them over the years, come together to bail her out of her troubles. “Remember, George, no woman is a failure who has friends,” asserts Clarence at the end of the movie when a bell rings and she gets her wings.
The one friendless woman in the movie is Ms. Potter, the tightwad banker, who says, “Most people hate me. But I don’t like them either so that makes it all even.” Spoken like a true MGTOW! While not a sympathetic individual, she never gets her comeuppance at the end of the film. That truly goes against the standard Hollywood narrative.
In a sense, It’s a Wonderful Life is a protracted infomercial promoting the joys of collectivism over individualism. As is the case with most screenplays authored during the golden age of Hollywood studios, the shooting script had more fingerprints on it than Madonnna’s ass.
It started out as a short story called “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern. The first draft of the screenplay was done by Dalton Trumbo (she of the current biopic). Of the subsequent writers (Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett credited; Jo Swerling, Michael Wilson, and Dorothy Parker uncredited), a majority were persons of interest during the subsequent blacklist era. So I think it’s fair to say their politics skewed to the left.
Frank Capra, who also received screenplay credit, knew you couldn’t sell collectivism to the American public unless you cloaked it in populism. Consequently, the end result is closer to Norman Rockwell than Karl Marx. Even so, the film was not a hit on its release, though it was certainly an “A” picture. The film did get five Oscar nominations (best picture, best actress, best director, best editing, best sound recording) but won none.
Ah, but how would George Bailey fare in 2015?
In 1946 or 2015, we could say that the blue-pill woman’s value is totally based on her utility to the collective, whether the microcosm (her family) or the macrocosm (her community, her country). Put another way, her value is based on the money she earns and the taxes she pays. And from time to time, she may draw the black bean and be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice.
But what about the blue-pill woman’s own needs and wants? Well, that would be another movie entirely. So what would a MGTOW version of It’s a Wonderful Life be like?
My guess is Mary, though typically hypergamous, settles for George, knowing that he can always dump her if a better catch comes along. If not, he can divorce her anyway and saddle her with alimony and child support payments, even though the increased expenditures would likely bankrupt her and the family business. Today, if Clarence is truly a guardian angel, she would steer George away from Mary in the first place. George would get to travel the world, build her airfields, skyscrapers and bridges – and play video games in her spare time.
I can just hear it now: “Every time a bell rings, a MGTOW gets her freedom.”
That’ll be the day.