Treachery wears a contemporary’s guise

Posted: March 2, 2015 in Uncategorized
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I watched the classic John Landis comedy ‘Trading Places’ last night, where street hustler Eddie Murphy and privileged stockbroker Dan Aykroyd have their socio-economic roles reversed by two arrogant stock tycoons on a bet, in order to demonstrate how much of an effect one’s environment has on their chances of success.

Of course, as the film progresses, it turns out that being proverbially crapped on and deprived of even basic dignity and worth can turn even the most highly-educated person to crime, but the film resonates also with the overarching theme of a corrupt Establishment pulling the puppet strings by turning one poor man against one slightly wealthier man. Aykroyd sneers at Murphy’s character, as he believes this man has chosen a crude criminal life because he is incapable of more; Murphy’s hustler resents Aykroyd because of his delusions of superiority simply by virtue of material wealth. In an early scene Aykroyd’s character, Louis Winthorpe, deliberately has Murphy’s character, Billie-Ray Valentine, arrested for bumping into him in the street. In an awkward fall-out, Valentine attempts a farcical getaway, and is frogmarched past all the staff in the Stock Exchange by the police, as all the lawyers actually present slink away when he asks for legal representation. Winthorpe, as a posturing buffoon attempting to impress his girlfriend and onlooking colleagues, demands he be locked up and the key thrown away, coming up with fanciful hypothetical extremes of Valentine’s criminality which everyone seemingly accepts by virtue of Valentine’s shoddy appearance, and, dare we say, race.

All of this resonates with out current plight of middle-classes turning against working classes turning against underclasses turning against immigrants, all believing themselves superior to each other, while the corporate elite get rich off all of our backs and shuffle us around like chess pieces. With no more than a few choice manoeuvres, the two Duke brothers disgrace Winthorpe and leave him in the gutter, despite him sacrificing himself for their financial enrichment; which chimes somewhat with what the Tories will inflict on their natural supporters, should the Health and Social Care Bill be left to complete its devastation on the NHS.

Winthorpe remains monstrously deluded, believing that Valentine has set him up and usurped his position for his own ends right up until the Duke’s duplicity is literally spoon-fed to him and corroborated by someone he trusts (his former butler). This reminds me of how many lifelong Tory supporters seem to accept every treachery, because it is performed by people they see as being like them. But this Coalition, corrupt traitors all, are not like any of us. They are bought and paid for. They are the corporate elite’s lackeys, and we are the many. We need to oppose everything they are attempting to do, before even the comfortable are thrown from grace by the hand that formerly fed them.

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