Monday, August 30, 2004

Chaplin's Modern Times Irritates My Daughter and Anger's Me

My beloved TIVO was nice enough to record a bunch of Charlie Chapin movie's that I tried to watch this weekend. I got through The Kid. Great. I found it hard to not watch him. Those little gestures with huge meaning. Jackie Coogan was tremendous and I guess I now know why people compare Haley Joel Osment to him after 80 years.

My daughter wanted to watch Modern Times with me after I told her about the scene with him in the machinery. This one. So we sat down and flipped it on. If you haven't seen the film, the opening scene is a bunch of sheep mindlessly being lead to slaughter that dissovles into a line of workers entering a factory. Subtle, eh? This is when the question came:

"Daddy, do the sheep work at the factory?"
"No dear, Mr. Chaplin was a saying that the workers are like the dumb sheep but instead of being led to slaughter they are being led to the factory where their souls will be slaughtered."
"That's mean. They're just daddies going to work."
"You think so?"
"Yeah, I don't like this guy (Chapin) anymore."

From the mouths of babes.

I'll forgive Charlie. He had a strong socialist bent, but, he could create wonderful things. The movie was made in 1936. This was before the purges in the USSR and all the horror of those years. So he can be excused for not knowing any better. No?

But it does illustrate a point I've always thought important. The totalitarians of the world whether they are Soviet Socialists, National socialist, Chicoms, or just some faculty marxist at a midwestern state school do envision the everyday workers as dumb sheep. The regular drudgery that we all do puts food on the table and allows us to chase our dreams. We're not killing our souls but funding our loves and passions.

The real trouble starts when these people who see workers as sheep get into government. Viewing people as sheep it makes them that much easier to kill - 20 million dead by Stalin, 10 million dead by Hitler, unknown millions for the various Asian socialists. From Napolean on.

I love that at 7, my daughter knows better.

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