(portrait of the Pacific Ocean and clouds, local Oregon artist)
here it was,a day or so after Memorial Day, at the end of May and lo and behold; it went and rained for several days. Wonderful! We sure need the water. Not joking. But anyhow there were Carolyn and I, sitting around not doing anything, when we saw the advertisements for the local movie festival, international shorts, and animated shorts, and the cost was about $10 for one afternoon, and $15 for one evening. That was a lot of money now.
“where the hell do they think we are, California?” Said Carolyn, nastily. “Everybody here is either very rich or very poor, nothing in between. But most of us can’t afford $15 for an evening of short movies.” “Yeah,” I replied, as we sat there and swilled our tea. Meanwhile, the huge development next-door of cheap little houses, next to me was still going on, although it had paused for the rain. I would soon be hunting up somebody to put up barbed wire fences on my side, right next to them to keep all the hordes of swarming new inhabitants on their side – – along with their kids and dogs.and problems. I had enough of my own.
“You know”, I said to Carolyn, musing,” I do need to buy a shotgun. I mean, one of those you don’t have to aim very well when they burglarize you, and several people come in; guys tell me, you don’t have to aim a shotgun, you just pointed in their direction and pull the trigger – several times. I know I know, it’s still not legal to saw it off, just don’t let them catch you with it.” “They used to have shotguns at Bi-Mart,” returned Carolyn, bored.
“Yes,” I said, “but how is that going to look on my tombstone? “This person was armed by Bi-Mart”! That’s no kind of a eulogy! That’s like saying, everything you buy from the NRA was manufactured in China!”
“I picked up an old movie I bought, long time ago, and it was sitting in the dust of my closet,” said Carolyn, grabbing her purse,” because I knew we’d be bored today. It’s called “they shoot horses don’t they?” and it has Jane Fonda in Michael Sarazen in it.I don’t think I ever watched it.”
“okay,” I said, looking at the DVD; and turning to pop it into the viewer. “This is supposedly set in the 30s during the depression, and it’s the story of, from the book, people in a dance marathon; which then was a way of making a living, or winning some money; all these very famished and broke people, were in this dance contest, with a partner, to see who could last the longest; (they had an audience who paid to get into see them suffer) and a couple that lasted the longest, outlasted everyone else, they got $700 apiece. (According to the story.)”
“You can take this story as the direct , straight story from the book. And you can analyze that, as I had parents myself who went through the depression, couldn’t find work, got really broke, and my mom dad lost his farm, could pay for the mortgage, and had a heart attack. It was really rough for ordinary people during the depression. A lot of people lost everything.
(well, according to technicality, that was a “DEPRESSION”, where everything FELL – – including all the prices of everything, everything in the country FELL. The stock market FELL. There was NOTHING LEFT.
“now, what we have now is a “RECESSION” which is very much like a DEPRESSION. Although technically it’s a recession, because there are still VERY HI PRICES, all the other characteristics of the depression hit this era. No jobs, no companies, no industry, everybody going broke, all the businesses going broke.lots of people are homeless (yes, during the depression, lots of people became homeless, “hobos”, people who rode the rails, looking for jobs in every state, and camped outdoors.)
“Yes, indeed they had homeless!people starved. a good example is the movie about the boy who became a jockey, and rode a famous horse; his family had given him up, they couldn’t even feed him or house him.)People who had saved, or invested, got a letter in the mail saying they had lost everything.(that is very similar to what economically has happened now. People’s investments failing completely.)
“why are you getting into this economics explanation now?!” Moaned Carolyn. “This is a movie!” “Yes, but I have to give the background, because people who have never been through a real depression, don’t understand what it’s like. It’s like DEATH. There is no hope. In fact, the depression only lifted, when the United States went into World War II, produced lots of armaments, airplanes, bombs, firearms, soldiers, ships in the shipyards, and everything else that made the economy boom.
“That is how we got out of the depression. WAR.”. .“it doesn’t seem to be doing much for us now,” groused Carolyn; “we go into war after war after war, and it never ends, the economy just gets worse!” “I’m glad you mentioned that,” I said. this is a different situation. World War II was temporary, it lasted quite a few years.
“Now, we have endless war. Because, we are warring for all oil, as are all the other countries competing for the last resources of oil! And that becomes an endless war.” “This is getting to be a history and economics lesson,” mentioned Carolyn. “Now can we get onto the movie, since we know what the depression was like?” “Of course, sorry for becoming a schoolteacher again.” I said..
BUT, here are the characters in “they shoot horses don’t they?” One of the couples is a man and his wife and she is very pregnant; the Jane Fonda character, who’s very broke and desperate, and Michael Serrazin-character, who’s also young and broke, and a couple of other characters; imagine them all in a horrible carnivallike noise, and dance floor, with a dance band, and the manager yelling constantly “YOWZA, YOWZA!!”. And they are not allowed to stop dancing, except for a few breaks. They even have to eat standing up and dancing.
Grueling, exhausting, painful, desperate; and being watched by an audience, who paid to get in to see them suffer. Everyone running, trying to keep from being eliminated, and being the last couple to win the huge prize. Jane Fonda’s character is our viewpoint, of a hopeless life, characterized by nothing but struggle, and, as she comments “I never win! I always lose!”
Her efforts to get into the movies, are stymied by unapproachable casting department; in other words, she knows that life is rigged for her to lose – ahead of time. No matter what she does, it’s all planned out for her to fail, struggle desperately, and be miserable. And all these desperate couples, dancing as if their lives depended on it, have nothing else, no place to live, no jobs, even the three meals a day are better than nothing.
That is a good picture of the Depression, but it’s also a picture of life itself.the Moody, dark, and maddening atmosphere of the dance contest, condemns everyone to die (red buttons character literally dies on the dance floor) lose and be thrown out of the dance contest, or, like the cute little British actress, get all her makeup, her belongings and all her dresses stolen– – and go mad. Even the boss himself, is cynical and dishonest, rigging the dance contest to fail even for the winners.
Michael Serrazin, who is Jane’s dancing partner, tries relentlessly to be optimistic; at one point, dancing alone, he struggles to stay in the sunshine coming from the open broken window onto the dance floor; but inevitably as the sun moves, the sunlight retreats. One of the Jane Fonda’s character’s biggest pains, is watching the pregnant woman refuse to quit the contest, insisting on having the baby eventually, and keeping it. Jane asks her “if you keep the baby how are you going to feed it?” And the husband growls at her, and looks threatening, but refuses to answer her question.and Jane sneers and growls back, “sure, bring another little sucker into this world!”
the moviemakers, and the books author view the world in this way, and it is true; most of life is hard, miserable, struggling and desperate for most people in the world. You work and work hard, and in the end, you’re left with nothing. That indeed was the lesson of the depression; life is rigged for you to fail ahead of time, and there’s nothing you can do about it. So how you handle it, is up to you. You can optimistically view it as some day turning a corner in your favor. Or you can view it as something you want to stay with, despite the difficulty,because the alternative is to give up, and LEAVE.– and staying alive, is pretty much all you have. The alternative is final. Just as the end of the movie is. (And we will not give away the ending)”
“wow,” side Carolyn, as the last credits roll at the end of the film; “that was really depressing and sad! But you’re right, it was a very good movie.” And she added, “thank you for not explaining and telling the whole story, and the ending, and just writing it down for your blog. Boy do I need a lot of really sweet ice cream with fudge on after that!” “You’re right, it’s a good movie,” I replied, looking in my coin purse; “which fast food outlets you want to hit? Where is that place over in Springfield? At midnight they have super fudge Sunday’s or something?” “I think that’s only on Saturday,” replied Carolyn. “Don’t worry, this is Eugene they’ve got plenty of fast food and bad food sugar oil and fat and carbs; this is not the fish capital of the world anymore.”
(Sandraminadotty, signing off from this Pacific North West Film Festival Classic, on the search for the Eugene Typical Food Palate– not organic vegetables and BEET-CAKE!! OR spirulina, black pop-corn and gluten-free bread! Carl’s Junior, Taco Time, BEER, French Fries, and double-cheese-burger-whoppers!!
WHOO-WOO!! WE KNOW HOW TO LIVE IN A PERMANENT DEPRESSION!. JUNK FOOD IS CHEAP AND VEGETABLES GET BOUGHT BY RICH-LIBERAL-HIPPIES WHO DRIVE THEIR PRIUS TO THE “FARMER’S MARKET”! AND SPEND GOLD DUBLOONS FOR ORGANIC KALE!! OREGON IS THE NEW EXPENSIVE CALIFORNICATOR!!