b Papa Dog's Blog: Shakin' the Baby, the Rest of Conrack &c

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Shakin' the Baby, the Rest of Conrack &c

So, yeah, I used to read stories in the newspaper about babies getting shaken or beaten to death by their violent lowlife fathers and think “What kind of a fucked up human being could do that to a child?” There’s one thing that parenthood quickly teaches you: we’re all the kind of fucked up human being who could do that to a child. I would defy Mohandas K. Gandhi to hold a screaming baby who’s been fed and burped and diapered and coddled; who’s been lulled to sleep repeatedly and keeps on waking to take up once more the cause of screaming for the sake of screaming; I would defy the Mahatma to hold that baby and rock it gently while it screeches and squirms and struggles, and to not once think of tossing it out the window. The window across the room. The one behind the coffee table, where there’s that narrow space between the north wall and the neighbours’ garage. Not that I have any particular baby or any particular window in mind here, you understand. The unhappy truth is that such filicidal impulses are pretty much universal, and the difference between me and the crank-addled trailer denizen who stuffs his kid into one of the old fridges over t’ the crick* is just a little measure of patience; a veneer of perspective; a blessed thin patina of calm. Lucky, lucky little Baby Dog. It all puts me in mind of Chris Rock’s old routine about O.J.: “I’m not saying he should have done it. But I understand.”

We did get around to watching the end of Conrack yesterday, and (VAGUE SPOILERS) not only did I like it right up until the admirably large and easy-to-read closing credits (sure wish they still did it that way today), but it was also enough to make me somewhat revise my opinion of the underlying racial politics. There was an uncomfortable sense for much of the movie that it was about a white saviour come to rescue the poor black folks from their self-imposed ignince, but in the end it’s really not that at all. It’s just about a guy who makes a connection with some kids and while he can’t hope to really bring them up to speed on the education they’ve thus far lacked, he does manage to give them a little spark of curiosity about the world. The villain is quite clearly old-school institutionalised southern racism, not the mercilessly strict African-American principal, whose unyielding ways are eventually seen to be a different, though probably misguided, way of caring for children.

Fay Wray died? Who knew she was still alive?

Newspaper update: Just starting the front page for Monday, July 26. I know that doesn’t seem like much progress, but note that I got through more than one date during the day, which means I’m gaining ground. Also, the middle date was a Sunday paper, which here in the States is the biggest one of the week.

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* Other than the crank, the trailer, the fridges, and the crick.


1 Comments:

Blogger chi_town_chica said...

Once you've stopped reading newspapers for a month or so, you'll be happy you gave it up. :)

6:56 AM  

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