Two Movies- Once Upon A Time and Happily Ever After?

We saw two movies on the May long weekend 42- The Jackie Robinson Story and The Great Gatsby. They made me think of fairy tales. 

You might have started both films with the words  ‘once upon a time’ because each movie takes place in the past and tells a story about a period in history that it is hard to believe existed.

42A racist and discriminatory time in American history is depicted in the movie 42.  It is difficult to understand how people in a supposedly Christian nation could ever have behaved in such an uncharitable and inhumane way.  The cruelty with which Jackie Robinson was treated when he became the first black man to play major league baseball is difficult to watch. Yet if anything I think the movie down played the severity of the persecution he experienced.  

Jackie Robinson is a real fairy tale like hero as is his supportive and determined wife. Movie viewers cannot help but be on their side and root for them to succeed. They have our sympathy. 

great gatsbyThe Great Gatsby depicts a time in history when the members of America’s upper class were excessively wealthy and their lives consumed with the pursuit of pleasure. It is difficult to understand how in country which espoused equal opportunities for all, some people could have behaved in such an elitist, selfish and corrupt way. 

The protagonists of The Great Gatsby were not fairy tale like heroes. I certainly had no affection for  its male hero Jay Gatsby even though he’d had a fairy tale like ascension to wealth and privilege. I felt no sympathy for the shallow  female protagonist Daisy who could so easily toss love aside in favor of self-preservation. 

You couldn’t have ended either movie with happily ever after, because the issues raised in both movies haven’t really  been resolved.  

There is still a great deal of discrimination in the sports arena.  Most female athletes do not have equal opportunities or equal pay with male athletes and it is only recently that the first professional gay athlete has been open about his sexuality. Most still live in fear of the repercussions of such honesty. Times are different then they were in 1947 when Jackie Robinson played his first major league ball game, but not so different. 

There are still wide gaps between the rich and poor. Data from the Internal Revenue Service and the United States Department of Commerce indicates the inequality between rich and poor in the United States is greater than it has been in more than 30 years. The graph above shows that the present situation is much like that of the 1920’s- the time period of the Great Gatsby. 

Both The Great Gatsby and 42 have some fairy tale like qualities but they are not fairy tales. They depict real life situations that do not resolve themselves the way a fairy tale would. 

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