Will Ron Howard’s new film Cinderella Man help deliver a KO to Bush’s Social Security privatization scam? It’s easy to read too much into Hollywood’s influence on our politics, but this movie comes out just as it’s becoming clear that, as a recent memo by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg put it, “Social Security is a disaster for the President.”
In Cinderella Man, which opens June 3, Russell Crowe plays James Braddock Jr., the contender from North Bergen, New Jersey, who breaks his hand and slides into boxing oblivion–and onto the welfare rolls–only to make the unlikeliest of comebacks at the height of the Great Depression, culminating in a June 1935 fight with Max Baer for the heavyweight championship of the world.
How does all of this affect the current debate about the future of Social Security? By depicting the beneficial effects of welfare during the Depression, the film subtly underscores the importance of preserving what was a cornerstone of the New Deal.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the Depression,” Howard said in a recent interview with the New York Times. (While in high school, Howard made a documentary about the Depression, interviewing his father and others and using old photographs.)
In Cinderella Man, Howard says, “I wanted to remind people that the working poor existed then, and we have it today. While the economy is mostly up and then sometimes down–the Internet bubble bursting felt a bit like ’29, where people had overextended and fallen into that trap again–we’re anxious. Our population is anxious. We’re not in a depression, thank God, but I think it’s crossing our minds that something could happen, things could change and not for the better, for the worse.”
Will Russell Crowe KO Bush’s shameless scam to shred America’s most successful antipoverty program? Here’s hoping that his blows, added to the thousands inflicted by tireless organizers and ordinary citizens, successfully expose this rip-off.