Free-Floating Hostility

Monday, October 20, 2008


Little Red Songbook Volume II

As a sort of extension of birthday privileges, I finally received permission to screen The Pajama Game in our apartment yesterday. For the uninitiated, let me explain that it is a movie musical about unions, which I figure should represent the perfect intersection of Mike's and my interests. He objected to it on several levels, however. Though his eyes boggled, he claims the least of his objections is the lyric "I don't wanna talk small talk/I've got something better for your lips to do/and that takes no talk at all." He feels the problem is that the guy who saves the day in the end is management. I argued that a) the union wins the strike b) it's significant that the guy in question (Sid) has worked his way up off the floor so he's really representing both workers and management and c) this is a movie with Doris Day--were you really expecting that the big finale would be the triumph of socialism? Mike retorted that yes, he was. He then went on to elaborate his plans for a new musical called Karl!, the heart of which seems to be plans for a couplet that rhymes "bourgeois" with "je ne sais quoi." He says we have to watch Newsies now to make up for his disappointment. Since that will obviously not happen, we are soliciting suggestions for other musicals about labor relations.

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Mike at October 21, 2008 5:06 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Here's my problem with the ending (Spoiler Alert).

    Sid finds out that the Sleeptite board authorized money for pay increases six months earlier. Old Man Hassler has been pocketing that money. It's 7.5 cents every hour (40 hours every week) for 26 weeks, Hassler has stolen $78 per worker. And in the final contract he gets to keep that money. Further, he only settles because Sid threatens to go to the board and expose him and he'll lose his job. The union claims victory even though the audience knows the union was powerless to force Old Man Hassler to settle or make its workers whole for six months of being ripped off.

    I like the representation of how the union creates camaraderie and encourages people to engage in their workplace. That part shows the best of the labor movement. But on the core economic issues, this union was fairly impotent.

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