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Leaving Bedford Falls


Although I nearly missed it, most of you are probably aware that last Wednesday Thursday was Christmas (see, I really did almost miss it). My relationship with Jesus Day is unique, an adjective chosen in order to sidestep a bout of reflective self-analysis. The day has been one of tradition and rememberance. Both in common culture and in my own.

One tradition I have held is watching “It’s a Wonderful Life!”. I didn’t manage it all in one session this year, but the tradition continued. Ultimately, George Bailey saved Bedford Falls once again. This time, though, it struck me as more patehtic than heartwarming.

The simple stereotypes reminded me too much of the simple thinking that drives our choices in the meat world. Business is corrupting, money is evil, and pure hearts should be made whole no matter the consequences of foolish minds. Bah!

Here’s the untold tale of Bedford Falls:

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people. It is a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others move ahead and away, of becoming so filled with rage that you verbally abuse your children, their teacher and your oppressively perfect wife. It is also a nightmare account of an endless home renovation.

Yeah, when we’re all done hugging each other we’ll be back to our dead-end existence in a doomed little town. On top of your hardscrabble life, you’re now a felon, George Bailey:

But isn’t George still liable for the missing funds, even if he has made restitution? I mean, if someone robs a bank, and then gives the money back, that person still robbed the bank, right?

I checked my theory with Frank J. Clark, the district attorney for Erie County upstate, where, as far as I can tell, the fictional Bedford Falls is set. He thought it over, and then agreed: George would still face prosecution and possible prison time.

“In terms of the theft, sure, you take the money and put it back, you still committed the larceny,” he said. “By giving the money back, you have mitigated in large measure what the sentence might be, but you are still technically guilty of the offense.”

The romanticization of small towns and their “sense of community” belongs in the past. And the past is another country. I have emigrated.

Via: Brian Dunbar


Via: Brian Dunbar

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