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I consider myself lucky to have seen many of the movies of W.C. Fields and the Marx Bros. growing up in Duluth. A Duluth TV station aired them. WDIO, I think. They were the upstart station in the 1960s.
And then in the early ‘70s there was a nostalgia craze that included Marx Bros. movie revivals at theaters and airings on late-night TV for the hip, young stoner crowd that related to the anarchic comedy of the Marx Brothers, particularly the 1933 political satire Duck Soup, the last of their five films at Paramount.
The premise is simple – the country of Freedonia is in deep financial trouble. It has a benefactor, the wealthy widowed Gloria Teasdale (longtime Marx Bros. dupe Margaret Dumont – she appeared in seven of their films), but, inexplicably, she will only bail the country out if they make Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) the leader. Let the one-liners begin!
I wanted to see Duck Soup again, so I bought a digital version for a few bucks through one of my streaming services.Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo Marx are in fine form – well, Zeppo is a straight man but he gets to sing.
But it was Groucho’s singing that got me thinking, particularly when he sings the draconic platform of his new administration, including the line, “If you think this country’s bad now, just wait until I get through with it.”
Hmmm. Why was I reminded of a dangerously ignorant, bloviating lump of evil whose presence has allowed other like minded monsters to thrive, people like Robin Vos in Wisconsin, Trumplican Stauber here in Minnesota, the Three House Stooges – Boebert, MTG and Gaetz – and Senate dumbbells such as country club drunk Ron Johnson and rockheaded Coach Tommy Tuberville, and then there is the truly vile DeSantis in Florida. I could go on and on because there are more of these Trump wannabes out there. Trump’s sloppy presence and presidency opened the box and let those monsters out.
Later in the film, when Chico’s character, Chicolini, is being tried for spying, Groucho says of him, “Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.”
Wow, that really seems to sum up the above-mentioned crew of dimwits, chuckleheads and assorted other miscreant spawns of Trump. If they talk like idiots, look like idiots, they must be idiots.
Yet each member of that confederacy of dunces was duly elected to represent the people of their respective districts, so call them idiots and what is that saying about the people who elected them?
What kind of people would want to elect idiots to represent them in Wasington? There can only be one conclusion. We live in a country of idiots.
Jazzed up with patriotic fervor by their elected idiots and their complicit right-wing “news” channels, they are incapable of understanding that they have put idiots in charge of running the asylum.
If you’re feeling down because of the prevalence of idiots in power, do yourself a favor and watch Duck Soup. It won’t fix anything, but it will perhaps assure you that the world has always been plagued by idiots in power.