Many fondly remembered movies from my youth simply don’t hold up (“Bueller, Bueller”), but 1976’s The Bad News Bears is still a masterpiece. And it speaks to our current cultural and political crisis.
TBNB is the story of a suburban California little league team of total misfits written by Bill Lancaster, Burt’s son, who would go on to write John Carpenter’s classic The Thing and, sadly, die young. In a story that many of my contemporaries seem to share, my unsuspecting mom took my brother and I to see it at the old Hillsdale Cinema in San Mateo, probably thinking it was just a typical kid’s movie. Um, no. It’s incredibly politically incorrect in everything from the casual racism/sexism/homophobia to the smoking and alcohol guzzling, often by kids of about twelve years old. It’s also unspeakably funny; my brother and I delighted at the foul-mouthed children while my mom lost it at “Chico’s Bail Bonds” (I won’t spoil it if you’ve never seen it).
And you need to see it. Not just because it’s hilarious, but because it provides an interesting commentary on our current culture. The heroes of TBNB are the outsiders, the unwanted, and the overlooked, including (among other unrepeatable epithets) a “booger-eatin’ moron.” Portrayed as having forced the league to accept them via a lawsuit and treated as interlopers, they get the worst equipment and the worst coach, and take nothing but grief from the league’s … establishment.
Similarly, in another 1970s classic, Animal House, the Delta slobs were the heroes in their struggle against Faber College’s … yes … establishment.
In other words, they are kind of like Trump voters. They are deemed unfit for polite company, begrudgingly accepted, and generally treated like dirt by their betters. And they are expected to go hang out forever with Muhammed, Jugdish, Sidney, and Clayton, with whom they will have plenty to talk about.
Think of the elite as the Omegas, with the media as its Doug Neidermeyer, smug, self-satisfied, and obnoxious. Or as Vic Morrow in TBNB, smug, self-satisfied, and obnoxious. And is there anyone who can seriously argue that the elite and its media puppets are anything but smug, self-satisfied, and obnoxious?
There was a time when the outsiders were the heroes in popular culture, except now the very people who used to push the notion that the outsiders deserved a break are the same ones backing the consummate insider and figuratively screaming in the faces of the disenfranchised about their “Make America Great Again” pledge pins.
Instead of rooting for the underdog, the who’s who of popular cultural is trying to muzzle it. Hollywood – like every other major institution – is lining up behind the “public servant” who turned six years as a senator and four as secretary of state into a 9-figure net worth. She gets handed hundreds of thousands of dollars for several dozen minutes of her presence while the average household of regular folks sweats to bring in $53,657 a year. The media eagerly caters to her every desire, and carefully cultivates her memes and messages; when’s the last time you saw the media side with a normal? She’s the ultimate insider; the people Trump talks to are the quintessential outsiders. Like the snobs always are in the slobs versus snobs genre, under the surface she’s irredeemably corrupt, personally immoral, and utterly without scruples.
And Dean Wormer? Come on – he’s a college administrator. He’s with her.
Why? Because when the misfits start getting uppity they represent a threat to the cushy, comfortable status quo. Wormer and the Omegas don’t just hate the Deltas for their outrageous behavior; they hate the Deltas because the Deltas are a threat to their unearned position. The Deltas commit the unforgivable crime of refusing to acknowledge the snobs’ divine right to rule them. They defy their betters. By refusing to kneel and know their place, the Deltas (and the Bears and a hundred others, including the Lamda Lamda Lamdas) represent a challenge to the establishment. And they must be crushed without mercy.
So when the establishment pundits demand that “Trump” or “Trumpism” be crushed, what they are really saying is that those people who Trump speaks for must be crushed. They must be silenced and taught their place, which is not at Faber College and not in the North Valley League.
So, if Hollywood was honest – HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! – then we would see a remake of Animal House from the Omega point of view, where Greg Marmalard is only trying to help the Deltas make better decisions, and where Neidermeyer is merely attempting to improve these unfortunates who are clearly unable to govern themselves without the aid and assistance of their elite superiors. And the all-white Omega house – like the lily white liberal political and media organs – will help the Deltas overcome their racism, sexism, and other moral failings. No, it probably wouldn’t be very funny, but as Jon Stewart has taught us, real laughs must be subordinate to the needs of the narrative.
Basically, when outsider Hollywood became the insiders, it abandoned the people it used to champion and became everything stuffy and conceited that it pretended to despise. These hacks didn’t just sell out – they aggressively marketed their souls to the highest bidder. Everything they ever pretended to believe about standing with the little guy against the establishment was a lie; they were just biding their time until the establishment’s invitations arrived at their waterfront Malibu estates and they could start wielding the frat paddle.
And Hillary? She’s the sorority mean girl, a frosty, neurotic, mid-western over-achiever whose freaky daddy issues compelled her to marry a guy who treated her with the same contempt as Pops. She’s the a bitter, striving, hard-four Mandy Pepperidge who hooked up with a cleaned-up Bluto because she knew he was going places, but then finally broke him and forced him to become a vegan.
Bill Clinton absolutely understood the outsiders back in his prime, but Hillary would, thankfully, never be caught dead at a toga party. Such frivolity offers nothing that she could use in her quest for whatever objective she thinks will finally fill the void in her blighted soul. At best, she is headed for [SPOILER] a victory as ultimately empty as Vic Morrow’s in TBNB. At worst, she might follow fellow D.C. corruptocrat Greg Marmalard to prison.