Bah, Humbug! Ebenezer Scrooge, American Politics, and the Republican Party

Or “The Political Dichotomy of Ebenezer Scrooge as Depicted by SJW Charles Dickens”

Welcome to the holly jolly time of year when we all smile a little brighter, we all drink a little more eggnog, and we all (oh so briefly) smile at the sight of snowflakes. And while we drape our tinsel and wrap our gifts, most of us will watch some form of the Charles Dickens masterpiece, A Christmas Carol. My personal favorite being the Married With Children television episode entitled “It’s a Bundyful Life” which featured guest-star Sam Kinison as a screaming angel. Scrooged, starring Bill Murray, is also at the top of the list.

What you may not have ever considered is that Dickens offers us a curiously apt allegory for modern American political views. Actually, they were designed quite deliberately as a moral tale for the mid-19th century, when Dickens experienced and witnessed terrible poverty and suffering. It is no secret that he was a social activist who advocated education reform, labor changes, and support for women and children.

But a lot of that is rightfully swept aside when we watch A Christmas Carol, or Scrooged, or Mickey’s Christmas Carol, or The Muppets Christmas Carol, or even Ebbie. Instead all of us, no matter our political stripe, focus on the sweet and sad story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation and yuletide magic. 

This is a jolly reminder, though, that the story is about more than Carol Kane hitting Bill Murray with a toaster, and is also very fun to use for taunting my Conservative friends with on social media every single December. May the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future help you ponder your political stance this holiday season.

Are You the “Before-Scrooge”?

Ask yourself that question in a very thoughtful way. What about the leaders you vote for? Which are they? Quite notably and deliberately, the priorities and values of Ebenezer Scrooge, our crusty miser, at the beginning of each tale mirror the views of many right-wing Conservatives:

  • Money and business are the highest priorities, and holiday cheer is manufactured for profit. As long as the economy is strong, then all is right in the world.
  • Charities do not deserve donations, for the poor should better themselves and stop mooching off of successful businessmen, such as Scrooge.
  • There is always someone with hands held out wanting a free lunch, and Scrooge isn’t buying.
  • Love and care are distractions from the bottom line. Think of Scrooge’s Belle as our planet and its wildlife, trees, oceans, and rolling hills. Just like Belle, the planet is just done with us, because we prioritize profit and treat her like crap.
  • Ebenezer’s protege, Bob Cratchit, doesn’t deserve more coal or pay because he does not have a desirable skill set to have an inherently higher value in the workforce.
  • Tiny Tim’s health care is hardly Scrooge’s problem, and the idea of others contributing toward the little lad’s well-being is  another way for the poor to mooch off of greater society.

It takes a hardened heart who sees dollar signs in the face of suffering.

Or the “After-Scrooge”?

After the three ghosts scare the bejeezus out of Ebenezer, he starts to adopt a new outlook on priorities and helping others. The Cratchit family gets a big Christmas goose, though they have done nothing in particular to deserve one (and for all Scrooge knows, they might end up selling some of the leftovers for god knows what). The charity fellows get a sizable donation, and Tiny Tim is promised top-notch healthcare that his family can afford. Ma Cratchit might even go get some birth control pills. 

Truly though, Scrooge’s transformation seems to appeal universally to people around the world. I know of none of my Conservative pals who watch the Dickensian tale and cry out that Scrooge lost his way by the end.

Yet, when the tinsel is packed away and the leftovers are all gone, they go back to their lives and their social media posts and their political stances like they wish they could elect “Before-Scrooge” to lead them. Nothing is free; you have to work hard and earn it. If you had value, you’d be winning. Tax breaks. Banks will save us. If it’s worthy, capitalism will fix it. The party of misers. The party of Jacob Marley.

We can’t hope for three ghosts to visit each Conservative household and reveal glimpses of our racial and misogynistic past, people starving and going without healthcare in the present, and a burning planet in the future. So our only hope is that the little child in our hearts who loves Christmas and always quietly cheered, “God bless us, everyone” will keep the spirit alive all year long. We can all be the “After-Scrooge” if we keep the Christmas flame burning.

Merry Christmas to all.

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Mr. Boogedy is Totally Misunderstood

If you were a child of the 80s, then you likely know the tale of the silly and harassed Davis family who bought a haunted house in Lucifer Falls and then battled an evil ghost with a magic cloak. You watched Kristy Swanson (the worst actress ever) pout on a picnic blanket with cheese curls, and a robe-clad Bud Bundy get pulled kicking into the air by an inflated fireplace shovel. The kid from ALF even bickered with a little kid ghost over a snot-soaked teddy bear, and all the spirits glowed in neon. It was the spooky and mesmerizing children’s tale called Mr. Boogedy, which originally aired as a Disney made-for-TV movie in 1986.

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I’ve been watching and rewatching this movie every October for many years now, and it has come to my attention that there is, in fact, something very haunting about this tale. But it isn’t the house or how the Davis family was plagued by ghosts. It was the treatment of a misunderstood man named William Hanover that lasted for hundreds of years. You see a hamburger-faced demon zapping lightning at a wisecracking family, whereas I see a trod-upon and anguished soul.

To see my point, let us all go back to the beginning. Boogedy’s beginning.

The Origin Story

Here is the story of Mr. Boogedy–as he is known pejoratively known–in the words of crackpot historian, Neil Witherspoon:

300 years ago, long before any of us were alive, a small group of pilgrims lived on this very spot. They were a hard-working, decent group of people. Once in a while of course, they would enjoy a good laugh. Most of them, that is.

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It’s Thankstivus! The Much Better Alternative to Thanksgiving

I’m declaring a brand-new holiday from this year forward: THANKSTIVUS!

It will be observed on the traditional Thanksgiving day. The holiday does not require decoration, but should you choose to, the thematic colors are blue and black, to symbolize the bruising of our souls by Thanksgivings of years past.

Thankstivus Traditions

The celebration of Thankstivus should be observed as follows: First, all parties must sleep in until a very late hour, for family is exhausting. Then all participants gather at one home in the mid to late afternoon. Children should be immediately evacuated to an insulated room elsewhere in the house with nourishment and entertainment to last hours.

Wine and Cheese Reception

The holiday commences with a pregame wine and cheese reception, that will last exactly 15 minutes, during which no one may speak. This is a time of reflection, relaxation, intimidation of other parties, and–above all else–drinking.

The Airing of the Grievances

Borrowing from the magical holiday of Festivus, it is more appropriate than ever at the beginning of the holiday season to air the grievances. Once the wine and cheese reception is complete, the most eager and loudest person may begin telling everybody how they have disappointed them in the past year. Physical contact (especially hugging) is prohibited, and crying will not stop the proceedings (nice try, Mom). Heavy drinking is permitted, and encouraged.

This will last until everyone has aired their grievances, or one hour maximum, hence why it is important to make your grievances heard loudly and first above all other voices.

The Feast

The grievances are to be set aside, as if purged and cleansed, and everyone is to dine. Each person will bring their own food of choice, since not everyone likes turkey or conforming. Hot dogs, chicken wings, lasagna. There is no wrong meal at Thankstivus. This is a time to feed the stomach and the soul in preparation for the holiday season ahead. You will need your fortitude for gift shopping, light hanging, tree tinseling, and cookie baking. Now is the time for nourishment. And more alcohol.

Nap Intermission

All parties are at liberty to nap on any couches, beds, or armchairs available with no malice toward the sleeping. This nap is to last at most one hour, so as not to skunk the entire damn holiday. Parties not interested in napping may watch mindless television and movies, but no one shall clean or perform other chores. This is a time of mindful rest and meditation.

The Feats of Brilliance

The final ritual of the holiday is the Feats of Brilliance. All members are required to participate, with no exceptions or excuses. The group shall sit down and compete in a tabletop board game, or several, as deemed necessary to declare a Thankstivus Champion. The prize for the Thankstivus Champion is unlimited rights to leftovers from any participant, taking none that she or he does not want, free of guilt or obligation. The Champion may not participate in the cleaning of the dishes or other insipid post-holiday chores (moving tables and chairs, finding Tupperware lids, taking out garbage, etc.). Further, the Thankstivus Champion may drink from any other person’s cup for the rest of the night, as all alcohol becomes spoils of the Champion. The Champion shall reign superior until a new Thankstivus Champion is declared one year later.

I think we will all find that this will be a holiday of cleansing, preparation, and arming ourselves for the jollity ahead. I say to you that autumn is not a time of thanks, but a time to be royally pissed off at the cold and darkness, and the pressure of the oncoming holidays and bleak winter. Rue on, good November people. And Jolly Thankstivus to you and yours.

Best Thanksgiving Movies & TV Episodes to Feast On

Thanksgiving is a pretty ugly time of year. Lots of turkey carnage. And the whole guilt over what was done to the Indians. It’s a slaughtering holiday. The weather is hideous–all brown and cold, with no excuses to get some fresh air and go for a walk. There’s some kind of ludicrous law that most people have to watch football or they’ll die. And I’m supposed to get up early the next day and go shopping?

Plus there’s the annual scene of my dad hacking away at a turkey carcass in the kitchen yelling at everyone not to eat any appetizers–the ones I was asked to bring, mind you–while I am horribly drunk on boxed wine because my empty stomach always thinks dinner will come sooner than it does. Hey, Dad gets what he gets when he tells me to stay away from my own plate of cheese and crackers! Well, after I slur my way through dinner conversations about tired family memories, and I’ve crammed plenty of stuffing and potatoes in my face, the whole time trying not to embarrass my mom or make her cry (as has happened multiple years in the past), it’s time for my dad to pass out in a turkey coma in the recliner.

And that means it’s TV time! We can put on the best movies and TV shows that Thanksgiving has to offer…which decidedly isn’t much. For such ripe material about family and autumn and conflict and booze, there is shockingly little material out there, especially compared to Christmas. Maybe it’s slaughter shame. Christmas is all magical, and Thanksgiving is all carnage.

Well, fret not; the ol’ cornucopia is still full of television and movie treats, and here are the best ones, my fellow slaughterers. Don’t be fooled by other lists that load up any crap movies or TV shows that make me want to wretch over the pumpkin pie. I promise you, below are only truly worthy watches. And for all of them, I am truly thankless. Because I’m an irreverent asshole.

Best Thanksgiving Movies

  1. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

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    The Braidwood Inn, Del’s trunk, the beer cans exploding on the vibrating bed. The burned-up car, the frozen dog, the impossibly broken car seat, and the two pillows between which Del snuggles his hand.

    Side note: John Candy and Steven Martin perform brilliantly as 1980s male representations of what my marriage is like (I’m Neil Page, and my poor husband is Del Griffith). Rude, sweet, and just damn funny. 

  2. Home For the Holidays

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    A hidden gem of a dark comedy from 1995. Turkey grease, puffy coats, Robert Downey, Jr., and floor lamps. Anne Bancroft smoking. Charles Durning dancing. Aunt Glady’s Fruit Loops necklace and admiring her “horse in a uniform”. And Steve-fucking-Guttenberg.

  3. “This is America Charlie Brown”: Mayflower Voyagers

    CBMayflowerPilgrims Snoopy, Woodstock, and Charlie Brown. The simple, varnished version of Thanksgiving as taught to schoolchildren of yore. Blissfully adorable animation. A little bit of actual history. Charlie Brown yacking over the side of the boat. Linus rolling through a pumpkin patch at the new settlement.

    Continue reading “Best Thanksgiving Movies & TV Episodes to Feast On”

Remaking Groundhog Day

I cannot explain it. I have been obsessed lately with the idea that the movie Groundhog Day needs to be remade. With Bill Murray.

There, let’s get that first detail out of the way right now before too many of you roll your eyes about 80s and 90s classics being remade with peppy new soundtracks and overloaded jokes about texting a Twitter to make it au courant. I in no way advocate for a remake starring Mark Wahlberg or Melissa McCarthy. No, we need the man back. The funniest goddamn man on this planet: Bill Murray.

With that in mind, just consider all the ways in which we could elevate a cute, schlocky early-90s comedy into one of the greatest films of all time. The plot is already there–it’s a classic tale of magic, human nature, and redemption. We just need to strip away some of the varnish, the bouncy 90s soundtrack, and all of Andie MacDowell’s vests. And Andie MacDowell, who seriously is just a terrible actress.

People, I have a vision. A grand vision about how this could be brilliant. But there are rules. And none of these rules can be broken, or my adolescence will be retroactively ruined (more than it already was).

Rule #1: It Must Star Bill Murray

The excellent news is that the plot is not reliant at all on him being middle age. As of this posting, he is 66 years old, and the story will still work just perfectly. No reason he can’t have late-in-life new love, right?

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He is still pitch-perfect, devilishly handsome, and the only man who can pull of this role properly. I don’t even know why I need to lay out this argument.

Continue reading “Remaking Groundhog Day”