Looking to unify a nation
Note: This story was written by my husband, Jack McGuinn, who is not a regular writer, here. As a screenwriter, I believe it is a timely and uplifting message and wanted to feature it on my home page.
Hello from the Heartland. I am writing to share an idea with you. While it’s probably hopelessly naïve, I firmly believe it has merit.
It doesn’t require a political scientist or man or woman of the cloth to understand that our country has become seemingly hopelessly divided at this time. Whether it be in a blue or red state, it is difficult to reach a consensus on what day of the week it might be. Despite President Joe Biden’s sincere call for unity among us, realistic — or at least cynical — people, and certainly Congress are not buying it. Bottom line, we can’t seem to come together on anything of importance.
What can possibly be done to change this equation? Short of invasion by a foreign power or men from Mars, it would appear, nothing.
But there is one thing that exists that has a unifying power that has survived for well over100 years, i.e. — The Movies. Leaving aside the propaganda films of, for example, Nazi Germany, who can deny that movies — if only for an hour or two — have the power to unify an audience in their appreciation of what they are witnessing? And yes, to think virtually as one mind — if only briefly.
And who can deny that movies have the power to make an audience forget for a while its troubles and uncertain futures? I am reminded of the wonderous scene in Preston Sturges’s Sullivan’s Travels that depicts an audience of chain-gang prisoners being shown cartoons, and the universal joy and laughter it brings to them, despite their dismal existence.
I cite that example in wondering what the film industry as a unified force could do to help bring this nation together, to help us understand that there is no blue or red voter or politician. Rather, that regardless of geography, movies can help us better understand what walking in that other person’s shoes is really like. Movies can do that, and without necessarily taking a point of view.
As just one example, I point to the films of John Ford and Frank Capra. Who, for example, can watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington…