Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

If the writers' strike is getting you down, organize your spirits with some of these flicks

I know that it seems as if the WGA strike has gone on for forever and a day,but despite the onslaught of reality shows and the dwindling amount of fresh material to put on in primetime,this is no time to get mopey,folks.

True,we run the risk of not having an Academy Awards show this year(which will be a relief to some)but the risks being taken by the writers out on the picket lines are so much greater. So,in the interest of keeping hope alive as well as your entertainment levels,here are a few films that celebrate the working man's union in America. If you haven't seen any of these(there are a couple that I haven't but felt they should be given a nod),get them on your Netflix queue or at your local video store.


This movie has a very personal connection to me; my mom was one of the people that helped to get the union in at her job(she still works there and is a delegate today) when I was a kid,and our family used to call her "Norma Rae". That movie was huge at the time and Sally Field's performance as the lady of the title really rang true.

Field's feisty and frustrated textile worker,who reluctantly became involved with the TWA and later one of it's strongest supporters,wasn't some paragon of perfection but a real live person taking on a challenge that seemed to be overwhelming at times. The movie won several Oscars,including one for Field and it even got Best Song. Quite a triumph there:


Known mostly for Marlon Brando's famous "I could've been a contender" speech,this classic film dives into the criminal corruption that swirled around the New York longshoreman's union decades ago. You could make the case that this is not exactly a pro-union picture but the truth is,bad apples need to tossed out of any bunch to keep things honest and clean:


This is one of those union films that I haven't seen,mainly due to the severe lashings it received from the critics( the movie even got a Golden Razzie for Worst Song).

I have to admit that a 19th century newsboys' strike doesn't appear to be the best material for a musical but on the other hand, listening to Christian Bale sing a rally to arms tune in a Brooklyn accent is pretty strong inducement for a viewing:


For a way more serious look at the union situation,there's no better person to turn to than John Sayles. Matewan,his 1987 portrait of the West Virginia coal miners' strike in the 1920s which to violent retribution at the hands of those who insisted on keeping the union out at all costs,is still a powerful film to this day.

One of the things to keep in mind while watching this movie is that sad fact that while many attitudes have changed over the course of time,there are some that still stay the same:


While Network has nothing to do with labor unions,it is relevant to this topic since television is the first casualty on the current entertainment front. If you're wondering why in the world has the state of affairs on broadcast TV(and even cable)has gotten to the extreme lower depths of exploitation via reality shows,look no further that Paddy Chayefsky's warning bell to us back in the day.

Remember what I said earlier about some things never changing? Take a good look at the Howard Beale show and look me in the eye as you insist that a rant fest like would never get on the air,or this raving madman wouldn't have his own channel:

1 comment:

Robin Brande said...

Yeah, Newsies was kind of weird. But you need to see it just to round out your already thorough and eclectic knowledge of film.