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Monday, October 22, 2012

Thurston Howell III

America has always been fascinated by the rich. F. Scott Fitzgerald made a living out of writing about the upper classes in Saturday Evening Post stories and most of his novels. This Side of Paradise, Gatsby, Tender is the Night all have a rich boy poor boy component with an unbending fascination with the rich even as he showed their foibles. Or as Ernest Hemingway famously said to Dorothy Parker, "the rich are very different from you and me." And she famously responded. "Yes, they have more money." We have this thing with the people who have made it and a lot of our shows offer people the chance to join our noveu riche royalty. Enter then Mitt Romney, our latest Thurston Howell III.

You could not help thinking how natural Mitt Romney looked in a tuxedo the other night at  the roast where he and Obama exchanged good natured barbs. He looked regal and when he joked that he and Ann wear formal wear for casual we believed him. Why not? The man is rich and Americans do have an image of the rich ala Trading Places where people eat at long tables in their finest. This goes back to Fred Astaire and the movies of the thirties where people danced around in tuxedos while America was in the depths of the Great Depression. Yet people could not get enough of this escapist fare.

And so here we are in another Depression of sorts contemplating  electing a very rich man to be President. And like Thruston Howell he has his own vocabulary and we could almost here him saying "Luvvy Dear," in his ascot and tails while holding up his glass of champagne. And Americans are betting this time around some of that glitter will rub off and jump start the economy. The rich possess the secret that eludes ninety nine percent of Americans and that is the path to the fabulous life of television and beyond. The rich are the beautiful people to most Americans and that is the problem. We just cant believe someone that rich could be that bad.

 And that is the problem with our latest Thurston Howell. Running around on a deserted island he is relatively harmless but running a country with so many people dependent on the government for subsistence living he is a disaster. The problem is the the glitter no longer rubs off the very rich. They are not that generous. Nothing trickles down but a middle class in decline. The simple truth is the rich just get richer.  And so we are like those people in the thirties  watching Fred and Ginger dance in the dark theatre.

The question is then...can Mitt and Ann dance?

Books by William Hazelgrove