My wife loves to cook. She gets her kitchen tools from Williams-Sonoma Cookware, her oil and vinegar from Katz and Company, and follows instructions given by Ina Garten and Michael Chiarello. For us, this movie was a “must-see.”
How does this movie make its way onto a blog about anti-Republican culture? You will have to see it to get the full effect, but here are some hints…
--There is a wedding scene, where Julia’s sister gets married. In the scene, the obnoxious relative is a Republican.
--Julie Powell, the person played by Amy Adams, plays hooky from work and is confronted by her boss. He says something to the effect that, “If I were a Republican, I would have to fire you.”
--Paul Child, Julia’s husband (played by Stanley Tucci), is caught up in the McCarthy hearings of the early 1950s. He faces what appears to be a panel of Republican Congressmen in a windowless room, where they inquire as to whether or not he is “a homosexual.”
I don’t think you will see a reference to these scenes in any reviews of the movie. They are meant to be a backdrop; a landscape for the movie.
But they are there, and they are purposeful.
It makes me think of the caricatures that our entertainment industry has profiled over the years. We had Amos ‘n’ Andy, with the naïve Amos and the gullible Andy representing the way people with dark skin live. We had I love Lucy, with Lucille Ball showing women behaving in a ditzy fashion.
Over the years, our entertainment industry has become a bit more sensitive in exploiting caricatures of human beings. However, that sensitivity now has a political agenda.
What is the message we see in Julie & Julia? The wedding scene shows us that Republicans are inappropriate and obnoxious. The scene with Julie confronted by her boss shows that Republicans are mean-spirited and vindictive. The Joseph McCarthy inquisition scene displays Republicans as bigoted and homophobic.
It takes something away from the entertainment value of the movie, but yes, Ms. Ephron, we get the message.
Over at GayPatriot, Dan has an earlier and more comprehensive review of the film, noting the "gratuitous slap against Republicans."
Douglas MacKinnon writing for The Wall Street Journal (may be behind the paywall) confronts the issue in the context of HBO's "Game of Thrones." From his article:
The latest example of this comes from the HBO network and its series "Game of Thrones." In one episode, the face of President George W. Bush appeared on a head impaled upon a stake. How proud those filmmakers must have been over their sandbox-like prank.
This type of immature behavior has not only become the norm in Hollywood, many times it's expected. It's almost as if there is an unacknowledged pressure to work in at least one totally out-of-context insult of the GOP or a conservative cause. I could list hundreds of movies and television shows which take these shots but will limit the examples to a few.
Go back and look at the 1983 John Landis movie "Trading Places"—in my opinion, a very well made and very entertaining movie. Except that Landis and company could not resist the chance to take a free shot at Republicans. On the walls and on the desks of the morally bankrupt and even racist Duke brothers are pictures of Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Dwight Eisenhower and other GOP presidents. This dig added zero to a good film, but Mr. Landis obviously could not resist.
Fast forward to the 1996 movie "My Fellow Americans," starring James Garner and Jack Lemmon. Another fun if underperforming flick. In the middle of this movie, for no reason other than that the writers could, is a quip that comes as a fictional former president (played by Jack Lemmon) is stealing vodka from a hotel minibar. Don't do that, says his wife (played by Lauren Bacall). "It's so George Bush." What a zinger. Bravo.
Staying with the Bush-bashing theme in Hollywood, we can jump to the first "Transformers" movie, released in 2007. Again, only because they could, the filmmakers took a gratuitous shot at then-President George W. Bush by showing him lying in bed on Air Force One wearing bright-red socks and asking a flight attendant to "Wrangle me up some Ding Dongs, darling."
Yes, anti-Republican caricatures continue to be popular in our culture.
Nora Ephron has died.
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