Brace yourselves. I'm going to say something inherently controversial: I fucking hate It's a Wonderful Life.
It makes my blood boil and creates a completely irrational amount of anger in me. Yes, yes, I've seen the whole thing. I know all about the "hopeful" ending and isn't great how the angel finally got his wings? But, I. Don't. Care. Because George Bailey? Is a schmuck.
And yet, every year I still watch it like a fool who hopes that maybe this time the Titanic won't sink. I'll sit in front of the TV and yell things in the hopes he might actually hear me.
Ernie. Ernie! (Or maybe Bert? Who cares, you're interchangeable anyway.) DO NOT STOP THAT CAR! George. George! Keep driving George! DO NOT TURN AROUND! Those vultures are going to bleed you DRY! And you're never going to travel the world! Keep going, George! RUN AWAY!
But he never listens. And I sit there fuming. Every. Single. Year. (And the folks at the Gladstone should be happy I saw the movie before the stage show and got all my yelling out then.)
Finally, today, I realized what it was that irked me so much about this film and has it sticking with me long after the holiday season has ended. You see, George gets to *SPOILER ALERT* see what life would be like if he hadn't been in it. My self-destructive, nihilistic side HATES that, because it means that not only does everyone matter, but that I matter. That I also have an effect on those around me and, well, then I have no excuse to bitch about my life, because, dag nabbit! It's a wonderful life!
Though we can't all have a real live angel pop up and whisk us away to the land of never been born, we can get metaphorical angels giving us little reminders every once in a while. My first recorded memory of such an incident happened in during my University days.
Every year, I was a Frosh Guide and people loved having me on their team because I was, to put it mildly, rather enthusiastic.
YES YES, YES WE DO! WE GOT SPIRIT, HOW 'BOUT YOU?
To give you an idea of the level of spirit I had, after barely a year at school, I ran for a VP position on the U of O's student council - basically the highest level of student councilness you can achieve - and my opponent once publicly tried to slander me as "VP Cheerleader - All pep and no substance."
He lost. Suck on my pride, asshole.
Anyway, every year I was a Frosh Guide and every year a handful of students would approach me to say that they got involved in student life because of me. There's a certain amount of joy and shock that comes in moments like that. In the sense that I can't believe something that seemed so small, so second nature to me, something that I would have done anyway, inspired someone else to do something.
Today, an angel let me know that something I had said to them in passing, something that I do not even remember saying a few years ago, struck a chord and made them reexamine a part of themselves. And part of this conversation even ended up in a performance piece they are working on. That moved me on a level that I couldn't even begin to describe.
Today, I was reminded why I love people and this art form so much. Because it's a chain reaction. It's all relative, it's all connected, it all matters. We all matter. And yes, I matter too.
Maybe I should cut George Bailey a little more slack.