Pollyanna

On Sunday, my wife Carol got me to watch a movie I had somehow missed in my childhood. I watched almost all of the Disney canon, from Old Yeller to Darbie O’Gill & the Little People (w/ Sean Connery!), from The Shaggy Dog to The Parent Trap. Swiss Family Robinson, Treasure Island, The Love Bug… not to mention all the classic animated films.

But I had never seen Pollyanna.

And having missed it as a child, as young teen and adult, I had already dismissed it as, well, Pollyannish, and the notion never again crossed my mind. Which was my loss.

It is easy to dismiss so much of the Disney vault as pure syrup. And as the years went by, I think perhaps that the studio indeed fell into formula. But there can be no question that so many of those early films, crafted elegantly and masterfully, had a tremendous impact on the morals and ultimately the hopeful outlook of an entire generation (mine, the Boomers). There was ALWAYS an essence of goodness, and it was juxtaposed against self-centered meanness, with an element of danger (and fear). Good had to be more than merely “good”, it had to have the power to overcome adversity.

The movie Pollyanna was the quintessence of that combination of elements. I confess to being moved and touched. The film spoke past my adult cynicism and reached back to resonate with the child I hope we all keep safely stored away, ready to rise strong.

The Glad Game, on the face of it, does seem hopelessly “Pollyannaesque”. But in its essence it holds a great truth, one that we should all wake up to every morning: If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.

Pollyanna and Anne Frank both believed something that is very, very hard to see: people are good at heart.

There are of course, some beings that look like people but probably are not. But let’s not discuss politics this today.


© 2017 Chuck Puckett

Worldview Bubble Bath

These days, we all tend to live in self-amplifying bubbles. We have opinions and world views, and the shows we watch and (God forbid!) the books we read, unless we are that rare breed of “open-minded, yet discriminating” folk, tend to reinforce those opinions. Facebook pretty much acts as a further enabler in this isolationism. I know many who have defriended those with opposing views. I personally try to keep many separate viewpoints in my FB universe (and this has not always led to pleasant exchanges 🙂 ), but the workings of FB itself seems to keep like-minded postings in my feed. Or else the unlike-minded simply post less, which is doubtful.

But even with my “big tent” philosophy of FB frienddom, I’m still living in a bubble. Not necessarily of political and philosophical and religious homogeneity, but rather one of cogitation and involvement and attention. I watched Obama’s final State Of The Union speechon Tuesday. I know a great many in my FB universe also watched, and with varying responses and reactions. BUT THEY WATCHED. Agreeing or not. Just like I used to do with W.

The point is, I can thus be fooled into thinking that a great many Americans watched. My FB universe skews me to that perception. But I expect the reality is quite a bit different. Instead, to the extent that many even care, they will get their SOTU fed in sound bites and talking head recaps, all patently guaranteed to continue to reinforce whatever world view they’ve “chosen”. FOX and MSNBC and CNN, etc., will condense and regurgitate whatever editorial emphasis has been agreed on.

But I fear that, for the much wider population, even those outlets will be ignored. Facebook leads me to the perception that most Americans are engaged and care and try to stay informed. The truth is probably much closer to the majority staying informed mainly on Kardashians and the NFL playoffs.

Jefferson would be distressed, don’t you think?

© 2016 Chuck Puckett