Who knows the famous 1947 American movie Miracle on 34th Street? It’s a movie that gets played again and again around Christmas time. The feel good movie about children and belief in Santa Claus has won lots of awards.
A major plot driver is the competition between two department stores and their two santas about which santa is the most loved and will get the most business for the store. It’s a classic goodies versus baddies thing, and classic American capitalism.
But in one of the most shocking scenes of the movie the “bad santa” taunts the “good santa” in the street. The “good santa” succumbs to the deliberate provocation and lashes out violently with his umbrella, hitting the bad santa who falls to the ground and pretends to be more hurt than he actually is.
What’s incredible about this scene is that the audience is meant to feel that the “good santa” was totally justified in his violent assault against non-violent taunts. The scene turned my stomach.
To me the scene epitomized the downside of the American psyche – a psyche that says violence is OK, a psyche that doesn’t notice when violence is glorified, and a psyche that is incapable of self-reflection.
Of course, not all Americans are like this. I wish them luck in turning the tide and creating a culture and a world of non-violence.