Monday, December 26, 2011

The Peasant Audience

"Everybody hates a tourist." -Pulp, from their song "Common People"

SOMETIMES you can observe two things at once, and draw a connection between them.

So it is with my reading Anna Karenina simultaneous with the release of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" starring Rooney Mara.

Don't get me wrong, Karenina's a great novel, for all its flabbiness. But. The peasantry serves as a captive audience for the self-obsessed doings of the aristocrats. They're there to applaud the various comings and goings of the carriages filled with nobles. "Aw! Isn't that nice?" Makes you wonder why there was ever a Russian revolution.

I'm reminded of the appearance of Jonathan Lethem and Jennifer Egan at the Occupy Wall Street encampment, gracing the downtrodden with their gleaming presence, media in tow.

Do you think Margaret Mitchell read Tolstoy?

Frankly, it's hard after awhile to sympathize with the plight of Anna and Vronsky as they sit around their massive estate complaining about how bored they are. If ever a couple needed a revolution to wake them up, they did.

Is America today all that different?

Now we have precious newcomer Rooney Mara. The name, you know, is the combination of two plutocratic dynasties. Tolstoy would love it! Kind of like being named "Crassus Pompey," or "Borgia DeMedici."

If everything in this country is going to be for the aristocrats-- I could name a couple score of dynastic Hollywood celebrities-- then why should the rest of us bother trying to do anything? Let's at least have honesty! There should be a large sign put up saying, "CLOSED"-- to all but the right people, the proper crowd. The nobles should wear uniforms, with short jackets and epaulets, as they do in Tolstoy novels.

The rest of us are here to be the peasant audience; to serve; to loyally gush and applaud the delicate Rooney Maras when they make their society debuts.

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