Friday, July 13, 2007

The People, Yes!

So some of you might have noticed I'm trying to raise a little feminist/socialist.

It's not an easy thing to do in Pork Smith.

There is also the issue of her daddy, who comes from the bourgeois, and is proud of it. "Yep," he likes to announce proudly, "we owned the means of production. That's right. And I wish we still did. I'd love to exploit the masses some more!"

The kid gives him a tragic look. Then she gives me a tragic look. "He doesn't mean it. Does he?"

"He doesn't," I swear to her.

"You think I don't?" mr. delagar says. "Line'm up!"

This was when we were watching The Age of Innocence last night, and I was brooding moodily on (a) how nothing was happening and (b) how these people spent their lives whining instead of acting -- "What's this fella's issue?" I demanded about Archer. "Why ain't he just light out for the territory? Dump this bint if he doesn't want to marry her, pack a bag, pocket some cash, and go. Good shit. Where's the issue, again?" -- and (c) how, exactly, they were managing to afford this appallingly extravagent life. Which led to the previous conversation, because you just know how. Sweatshop and slave money, that's how. Suffering of others, that's how. Exploiting the masses.

"Can I just watch my movie?" mr. delagar said, plaintively.

Then I read AWB's post, here, this morning, which sort of hooks into my point:

When I was there this week, a young guy who teaches history at a private academy was joining us. We talked a bit about the differences between teaching college and high school, private and public, and he said, “Well, I went to public school, so of course I feel weird about teaching these kids. They all have the ideological foundation for a really engaged political life, but they’re too wealthy to understand their own positions. They think having a McDonald’s hamburger is as big a crime against liberalism as voting Republican.”

“Oh my God!” I said. “I know! This is my outrage at the bourgeoisie! They can’t tell the difference between symbolic problems and real problems, like genocide and torture are somehow beside the point, because, look, some people wear tacky T-shirts and eat Velveeta!”

Elite Lady was enraged. “Believe you me! Those private school children you’re mocking have far more of a chance to do great things in this world than all the middle class people put together. Do you think the middle class knows anything at all or cares at all about the right things?”

Here in Pork Smith, which is less than an hour from the Fayetteville-Bentonville-Rogers triangle, where all the Wal-Money in Arkansas now lives, we have mostly the really poor, and a layer of middle class, then, in thin layers, like crumbling bits of shale, some Wal-Money and some Real Money.

None of which matters to anyone *not* from here, of course -- all anyone from out of Arkansas hears (mr. delagar swears one day he's going to write a book called Out of Arkansas) is that you're from Arkansas, and that's all they need to hear -- but in-state, oh, these tiny differences matter.

Anyway, what do they care about, up the hill, when it comes to our folk in Pork Smith? The lost jobs? How Whirlpool has outsourced its lines to Mexico? What the rising gasoline prices ($3.22 a gallon now) are doing to our students' ability to get to class? (Kind of rough when you're driving 30-40 miles each way each day -- and they can't move to town, either, not with what happened to rent with the housing bubble.)

Nah. They care about how grubby we are and our missing teeth and the piercings and the low-scale nature of our restaurants. That's your library? You might put some books in it! Har. Har. Call that a bookstore? Do you have any books that aren't coloring books? Yukkity yuk! You know, here's an idea, just a suggestion: once you have one Burger King, you don't need another one, right down the block. Might try some other form of food. Maybe a McDonalds! Chortle! Wheeze!

But the other point, and the one AWB also makes, about these enlightened folk up the hill I've noticed is how enlightened they often ain't. They drink shade-grown coffee, yes, or, you know, maybe they do, if it's cool that week to do so, but have they lit out for the territory and, as Bardiac notes here, done anything to help make it possible for the farmers and coffee-growers keep on growing that sort of coffee?

Talk is fucking cheap, after all, which was, I believe, the actual point mr. delagar was making in the middle of Age of Innocence last night.

That and could I save the political yap for after the movie one time please?

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