Thursday, January 10, 2008

It's All in the Movies

Oh, dear...I've not been a good blogger these days. So to help cover-up my slack, my friend Len has kindly offered to write a guest post on the blog. I think you'll enjoy his post and his good humor. Thanks for the guest post, Len!! :0)

In 2005 the American Film Institute published its list of the top 100 quotes from U.S. movies. Number one on the list was Rhett Butler’s final comment to Scarlet O’Hara in the 1939 classic, “Gone With the Wind” – “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” GWTW actually had 3 of the top 59 quotes on the list. “The Wizard of Oz” contained 3 of the top 100 lines, with “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” coming in at #4. But neither of these quote-machine movies could compare with “Casablanca.” Starting with Bogie’s “Here’s looking at you, kid” at #5, the war-time tale produced 6 of the top 67 quotes in U.S. film history.

Interesting, you say, but what has this to do with plastic bags? Bear with me.

Two lines tied for the shortest quote – a single word. The first of these is listed at #17. Even if you have never seen the movie – and I have not – everyone is aware of a single word uttered in “Citizen Kane” – “Rosebud.” The other one-word winner came from the 1967 hit, “The Graduate.” At #42 on the list we have this bit of sage advice – “Plastics.” Ahhh … and now I have your attention.

Wikipedia explains that “A family friend, Mr. McGuire, gives Benjamin Braddock one-word career advice: ‘Plastics.’” Stephen Holden, writing for the New York Times said, “’The Graduate’ didn’t invent the use of the word plastic to signify everything phony and superficial in American life. It merely sealed it in, well, celluloid. To sneer at all things plastic was to offer an instant definition of oneself as among the young, hip, truth-seeking cognoscenti (now THERE is a word for Michelle!) locked in a moral power struggle with an older generation of square, corrupt, greedy, warmongering materialists.”

Wikipedia does not disagree, writing, “Some see this as advice on the key to corporate success – becoming shallow and fake or ‘plastic,’ which Ben struggles with, as a recurring theme in the film.” However, Wikipedia astutely takes it a step further adding, “it was also an amazing foresight: while plastics were in use in 1967, since then they have come to be the predominant type of material used in consumer products, medical equipment, packaging, and even automobiles.” And, something even Mr. McGuire probably could not have foreseen, grocery bags!

But, 41 years after “The Graduate,” it may be that things finally are beginning to change. As you probably know, effective June 1, 2008, China has banned the use of free plastic bags.

So, let me leave you with two more lines. For those of you not familiar with collegiate life, I offer Rocky, at #80 – “Yo, Adrian.” But for those of you who have graced the halls of our nation’s institutions of higher learning, nothing on the list seems more appropriate than the 82nd entry from “Animal House” – Toga! Toga!” Fortunately, regardless of your background, I feel confident that the #1 quote does not apply to you, because if you are reading this blog, I suspect that frankly, you do “give a damn.”

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