Thursday, February 02, 2012

When Cultural Idioms Go Bad.

Interesting post this morning in Slate about the use of references to the movie Groundhog Day

Apparently the best romantic comedy of the past 25 years (I must have missed that vote) where world weary weatherman Bill Murray has to relive the same24 hour period - Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney until he learns about life or something- A likeable enough movie I thought but apparently its become a cultural touchstone and journo-types invoke it regularly in connection with anything repetitious or even just happens twice-guaranteed for any politician who has run more than one Presidential campaign. The article has some humorous descriptions of how the reference though apparently widely used has now become close to meaningless. That's a shame because while the movie is in a broad sense about repetition- Bill Murray does relive the same day 100 times or so (I think), its more clearly about endless( &compulsory) second chances. Doing something over and over again is not by itself "Groundhog Day" but doing things again and again and improving each time until you get it right is.

Sorry but the reference, to the extent a rom-com has one, should be more about ultimately practice making perfect rather than that things endlessly repeat.


Anonymous Denver Guy said...

You are right. That isthe point of the film (which is one of my top five romantic comedies). Each day he repeats is different, not the same. Bill Murray changes every day, becoming a better person and a master jazz pianist to boot!

Of course, the part of the movie that requires suspension of disbelief is that he can finally win over Andie MacDowell, because the conceit of the film is that no one else has time to change (for them it is the same day over and over). Chris Elliot's role is perfect, because he is the same character in every iteration. Still, the film is delightful because it does lead to an unlikely happy ending, which is what you want in a Romantic Comedy.

7:24 AM, February 02, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

100 times or so? Are you kidding? The original screenwriter estimated Bill Murray is stuck there for about 10,000 years. Harold Ramis, who helped rewrite it cut it down a bit, but it's still years and years. He must goes through the unsuccessful date with Andie MacDowell at least 100 times.

How long does it take to learn to play the piano well? Learn ice sculpture? Find everyone in town in trouble so he can save them? Learn everyone's backstory in the restaurant? He's stuck there for years and years. Over twenty years for sure. Maybe over a lifetime.

8:29 AM, February 02, 2012  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I guess different people see Groundhog Day differently--sort of like Rashomon.

10:11 AM, February 02, 2012  
Blogger New England Guy said...

I originally was going to say "hundreds of times" but then I though some clever-dick commenter will ask me to document it. Goes to show. So it goes.

10:22 AM, February 02, 2012  
Blogger New England Guy said...

...Or there is a duel contradictory time line like in Othello...

I just heard "Once In A Lifetime" on the radio and the "same as it ever was" line is what reporters as using Groundhog day to mean. Which for the reasons above I believe is wrong.

I saw the furry guy announce (the grizzly guy in the Top Hat) say that the critter says that we have 6 more weeks of winter- guess with a mild one it doesn't matter except up here in Maine. While we have avoided the typical deep freeze and heavy snow fall, its been raining/snowing everyday with temps between 30-35 and then freezing at night which means every commute is an icy slushy adventure

10:34 AM, February 02, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now there's a blog name: Sort of Like Rashomon

4:48 PM, February 02, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have heard that (sort of like Rashomon) as a phrase from people that would never in a million years watch a Japanese film Actually, I've never seen it and use it as reference myself although my experience of people describe things from a different perspective comes from an early All In The Family episode (the Rashomon episode)

5:01 PM, February 02, 2012  

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