Friday, March 18, 2011

A Common Problem

Noman has been on an Al Pacino thing lately, and recently saw "Scent of a Woman" (1992), the movie in which Pacino won his first "Best Actor" Oscar for his portrayal of blind, retired Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade.  It's a charming movie--despite Slade's potty mouth, and obsession with women's forms--that makes you say at the end, "Gee, I wish the world were really like that."

The story involves Slade's brief relationship with a financially-strapped student at a snooty prep school in New Hampshire.  The plot ensnares our young protagonist (played by Chris O'Donnell) in a web of deceit with a pack of egregious, smug, self-absorved and filthy rich human spiders.  This group is contemptuous of lesser mortals, and isn't shy about manifesting its presumed superiority through pranks, omertas, and having others hold the bag for their misdeeds.  In a word, these four silver-spooners are the loathsome incarnation of "entitlement," indeed, one to which we are feted regularly by Hollywood.

It occurred to Noman as he watched, that the odious presumption of entitlement is precisely the problem with the country's politics, and what makes them so generally infuriating.  In a movie, you can root for the pretentious to be put in their place, and cheer when they are, which usually happens within two hours.  In real-life politics, the entitled can foist their presumptions onto others for decades, and accuse objectors of "hate" for rooting that their privileges come to an end.  There is certainly no end to the extent that the entitled will push to satisfy their prerogatives, not public bankruptcy, frightening deficits or punitive taxes.  And too many politicians make it their life's work to increase both the number and the very sense of prideful entitlement among the nation's populace.

Like Noman says, he wishes the world were really like a movie sometimes.  He prays for a diminution in a noxious disease that afflicts rich and poor alike--the belief of some that the world owes them something, coupled with an insufferable attitude about claiming it as a right.

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