One of my favorite movies this time of year, for sheer shlock and Americana, is Holiday Inn. Holiday Inn is a Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire vehicle, full of musical numbers (the premise is a musical act that moves to rural Connecticut and opens a dinner theater that is only open on holidays), and that 1940’s vibe of “wow, things were so much simpler.”
Things were not, in fact, simpler then. Objectively: technology was ruder, and there was that whole World War II thing: families back home were just as invested in the war as the soldiers abroad — meatless, sweetless, and wheatless days, for example. Nevertheless, Bing kept singing and Fred kept dancing, and all in glorious black and white.
My very favorite routine of the whole movie is Thanksgiving. Because Thanksgiving is when our hero (Crosby) has been “cheated” of his girl (by Astaire) (and no he hasn’t been cheated, he was a dick and she caught him at it), and so he’s alone on Thanksgiving listening to his own recording of his musical number, “I’ve Got Plenty to be Thankful For”. During the number he savagely cuts into his dinner, clapping back at his recorded signing self, and has to get told by his “Mamie” (an African American housekeeper. So much can be said here but you know it already: not how it should have been, not how it should be, caricature, racist, etc.). “Mamie” tells him off and tells him to go “get his woman” because otherwise he doesn’t “have fight enough to keep her”.
I like Mamie and all but the reason I like this piece has to do with before she enters stage left (oh I like that she tells him off, too.) It’s the two Bings: Bing one is sitting and eating dinner, all pissy and whiny about his circumstance, and Bing two is looking at the bigger picture (gee, I have food and health and I’m not busy fighting a war on two or three fronts that we don’t know when it’s going to end.)
The two Bings remind me that I have two Bings too: I can choose to focus on the negative (and like most privileged people I can manifest a series of bullshit reasons my life is so hard: yet I have food on the table and a roof over my head, etc.) or I can choose to focus on the positive. So when I look at the bevy of things I can be upset or disenchanted about, I can either mope or I can figure out what I can do to address it. I’ve got a slew of things to address: work stuff, home stuff, “political” stuff.
Well. I’ve “fight enough”, as it were. And I think we all do. So if I can give y’all a belated Thanksgiving message: don’t let the Turkeys get you down :).
*edited to update the name to Mamie instead of Mammy. Thanks Stan :).