Was Harold Ramis a Republican?!

So here's an absolutely humorless article from the somewhat humorless liberal Salon that accuses the seemingly philosophic filmmaker Harold Ramis of having been a semi-closeted (well he's loud and proud in Ghostbusters) Reaganite.  The critic says that quite negatively, as evidence of Harold's genuine lack of wisdom and justice.  Let me just add a few words in support of his perceptions of Ramis' irresponsibility, although I'm far from denying the filmmaker's transformatively prescient wisdom.


I thought one of the highlights of the Oscar ceremonies was Bill Murray sneaking in a tribute to Ramis (one that was admittedly rather self-serving). 

Caddyshack did mock the heck out of Country Club Republicans for their snobbish prejudices and for not really having earned their money.  It can reasonably be said to anticipate the emergence of the new wealth of Silicon Valley, which has been well earned by relatively unkempt young people who don't share those prejudices.  Still, Caddyshack is actually an enormously sloppy movie made by self-indulgent guys that made a lot of undeserved money.  And the only thing I really remember fondly is the groundskeeper (Bill Murray) vs. the gopher. That was a little funny, but only a little.

Animal House seems to mock our fraternity system insofar as it is populated by uptight and unerotic future country clubbers with fascist tendencies.  But it also made fraternities cool again, insofar as they are animal houses filled with guys who never study, drink to excess, wreck expensive cars, steal from grocery stores, ineptly cheat on tests,  lie to women about love and death,  and take advantage of their female party guests at toga parties.  Fraternities did make a comeback on exactly that basis, parents being assured by the movie that those  guys who flunked out and were kicked out would eventually become senators and stuff. 

 It would have been better had the spirit of the Sixties mugged our fraternity system to death. Instead, that spirit was tweaked by that highly influential (but also fairly sloppy) film to allow the "animal house" to replace "the commune" as the model of enlightened extended adolescence. There's no doubt that Animal House made college life more fun and less serious.

Animal House also seemed to say that real education--liberal education--in America had become a joke.  First you have the motto of Faber College--"Knowledge is good."  Clearly nobody remembers why. The pseudo-hippie, pot-smoking, pseudo-novelist professor (played by Donald Sutherland) doesn't even like the great books he teaches.  That joke confesses to his bored class that Milton is boring, even the poet's jokes aren't funny.  The professor's pathetic last words in class: "This is my job."  Libertarian policy analysts and Republican governors who say we shouldn't be wasting students' and taxpayers' money on  such humanities' "jobs" no doubt have the Sutherland character in the back of their minds. 

Stripes and Groundhog Day provide evidence in the more responsible direction.  More on that soon.

Related Articles

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less

NASA launches ICESat-2 into orbit to track ice changes in Antarctica and Greenland

Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.

Firing three pairs of laser beams 10,000 times per second, the ICESat-2 satellite will measure how long it takes for faint reflections to bounce back from ground and sea ice, allowing scientists to measure the thickness, elevation and extent of global ice
popular

Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).

Keep reading Show less