Weekends are great! Rainy or sunny, warm or chilly, it's a nice time to take stock and ask yourself the big questions. But what is better than that every-five-day treat? A weekend that is longer than the usual weekend, a jumbo one. Just like this weekend! Labor Day Weekend. End of White Clothes and Accessories Weekend. Hop into Drabness Weekend. Watch some things on the TV or device.
HISTORY & FACTS
- What is it? It isn't about war, and it isn't about Jesus, but it is still a holiday. Who is it for? You, American laborer. It is three days of the rest of America just saying thanks to itself, including you. It was invented in 1887, so that President Grover Cleveland would not be murdered by the proletariat.
- To celebrate, you should see Diego Luna's movie César Chávez! It is about a group of friends who find a magical pair of pants that can fit everybody, but institutional forces and just plain carelessness keep certain kinds of people from ever wearing the pants, and when you mention the pants those people who are Gollum about only having the pants will lie and tell you that they don't fit everybody, but that's a lie: They do. There's room in those pants for everyone. Everyone except Old Man Poverty. They are the Traveling Pants we call America. The movie also stars Rosario Dawson and America's Sweetheart (and Ferrara), America Ferrara.
- When I say Waiting for "Superman" you probably immediately think of that song by international rock sensation DAUGHTRY, aka Chris Daughtry from American Idol who went on to such great success. But no, I am talking about the award-winning bummer documentary about how even public education can be radically gamed by the more-fortunate to insure that poor people stay poor by starting when they are children, because buying a government is even easier than walking down to your local balloting poll and casting a vote! Sometimes it's fun to destabilize and gut an industry while simultaneously damning a generation of the poor to its last vapors.
- That's what Michael Moore is all about! Yelling about that. You should watch some of his documentaries. What I like most about them—besides they are interesting and don't suffer fools—is how they highlight Mr. Moore's humility. You can really tell he's not into this for himself. Sometimes I like to imagine Mr. Michael Moore and Mr. Morgan Spurlock standing at a revolving door, with their complete lack of egos, and they're both just like, "No you go first, I insist!" like a couple of dang Canadians. Then before you know it, Morgan Spurlock's clothes have fallen all to pieces.
- The Grapes of Wrath is actually really relevant to Labor Day. Also there is a boob. I don't know about the movie, but in the book there was a boob. I think about it a lot. It did some pretty unexpected stuff.
- Norma Rae is about a lady with a face like a beautiful Shih Tzu, who talks like Gidget After Dentist, and isn't gonna stand for it anymore! For your nonsense! In this one part, she stands on a table with a sign. Like Bob Dylan, or Colin Firth in Love, Actually. But instead of saying "To Me, You Are Perfect," her sign said something more like, "To Me, Labor Is Entitled To All It Creates."
- Silkwood is about Maryl Streep realizing that she's not a lesbian, but she is chock full of carcinogens.
NOT STRICTLY FACTUAL OR BASED ON REAL STUFF
- 9 to 5 is fun, and an unsung feminist classic. Even Lily Tomlin can't believe that in the liberated American '80s, weinerdogs like Dabney Coleman are still running things. Just because they are men. They fuck him up, though, so it works out. In some ways it is the opposite of Clerks, but the main one of those ways is: Things happen in it.
- Some movies that are about what it's like to work very hard and not be respected, and I think we can all relate to that sometimes no matter who we are: Baby Boom, Working Girl, Tootsie, Broadcast News, and Pretty Woman. Three of my favorite movies of all time are on that list, I guess due to being an American hero. Guess which ones!
- Night Shift, I thought that movie would be relevant to this article, but it wasn't especially. Ron Howard can make a mean flick, though.
- I must have been thinking about another movie about a shift. Swing Shift? Yeah, with Christine Lahti! Goldie Hawn's husband goes off to war and, like in every movie she has ever made, Goldie Hawn has to learn to do basic human-being things like, wear shoes on your feet, Kurt Russell is hot, food goes into a mouth... it's riveting. Rosie the Riveting.
Other very great movies that fit into this category of things that aren't hugely relevant to what we're talking about are The King Of Comedy, The Long Goodbye, Network, and Vertigo. I mean, the people in them have jobs, but who doesn't? Layabouts. And who wants to watch a movie about them. Unless it is The Social Network. A great film; lotta choice crew footage.
But some hardworking people who do know the value of a dollar appear in the films Jackie Brown, Cleopatra, a James Brown documentary I saw once wherein he was called our foremost hardworking American man or something along those lines, and a very good recent documentary about backup singers called 20 Feet From Stardom that you have already seen if you are reading this.
Clockwatchers is like an Ionesco play where you think it's going to be funny. And then it is for a second, and that's comforting, and then BOOM! Things are not what they seem. It stars Parker Posey, Toni Collette, Lisa Kudrow, and fascism. I can't believe you've never seen it, you love everything on that list.
But executive realness is not the only realness. Other movies that are more, like, metaphors about the importance of labor to our society include:
- Toys, a great movie that asks the question, what if toy factories started making incredibly destructive weapon/toy hybrids like we have now, called drones? The movie thinks it's unlikely, but welcome to 2014, ya dumb movie
- Labor Day, which I didn't see yet but was made by one of my favorite filmmakers in the world, Jason Reitman, so probably the title is a pun in some beautiful way
- Birth which is itself on this list strictly as a pun on "labor," "labor day" if you see what I'm saying (and a less socially conscious fellow might point out all the "work" she's had done, but that is not how I roll)
- Snowpiercer which is a metaphor for what if you wrote a French comic book after you saw the Matrix and you worked, aka "labored," really hard on it; and
- Dogville, which is about doing all kinds of work. Hours and hours of boring, dehumanizing, stupid-ass work to where even dumb old blind Björk would be like, "This is kind of a tedious movie." That lady really needed the protection and collective bargaining potential that unions provide, the lady in that movie. For starters!
- Margot at the Wedding, because she "works" everybody's nerves
A cool fact about Margot at the Wedding is that it is super awesome, whereas Rachel Getting Married sucks and is horrible. That's how you can tell them apart. Not a lot of people know that.
Other movies I like where people do jobs and go to work: The Philadelphia Story, Valley Of The Dolls, [movie about the giant penis with the rollerskates lady doin' all that coke], In the Realms of the Unreal, and especially Mildred Pierce. She works her ass off, and for what?
Movies I don't care for, but should be included in this list: Rent, Atlas Shrugged. Basically the same thing to me. They are both mostly about counting, they are both pretty gay, and they both have a mean lesbian. Case closed.
TV SHOWS WITH WORK
Since this is a TV blog, here are some TV shows that are about working, labor, jobs, sometimes unions; this is not an exhaustive list although I did "work" hard on it for you:
- It's A Living, which is about waitresses. They dress scantily and work for tips and their job is Be Sexually Harrassed for Pennies but hey, it's a living!
- Mary Tyler Moore Show, which is a show about a lady with a job that she goes to; it had over 33 spin-offs, that were also about ladies going to their jobs
- The Wire, seasons one and five particularly, is about our society
- Sprots Night is not about sports so much as it is about fast-paced banter, and crying, and Dana
- A Battlestar Galactica episode where the Chief gives a Mario Savio speech. He's so cute
- Dead Like Me is like, what if everything was like it is, but also you are dead! And your dad is gay! Now, everything is more of a hassle
- The City, which is a spin-off of The Hills, which is a spin-off of Laguna Beach, which is the greatest television show ever made. In this third iteration: A girl named Olivia is beset on all sides
- Murphy Brown was the first TV show about a woman. She wore shoulderpads you wouldn't believe, she was an ex-model, she had a vagrant who lived in her house, and one time she thought about having a baby. Her boss was named Miles, and he can get it
- The Good Wife is the second TV show about a woman. But in this one, she does just as she pleases!
Kid Nation is a show about: What if a whole ghost town was run just by children. Just by like a mob of thirty children, with no set agenda and no real reason to keep it together. The answer turned out to be, it would be amazing. You would be lucky to live there. They should call it Stellar Kid Nation. If I had a Seven Nation Army, six of those nations would be Kid Nation. (The other one would be Denmark, because I am obsessed with Denmark ever since I watched Borgen. Have you seen Borgen? You should watch Borgen. It is good, better, best. They also have jobs there, kind of.)
- How Green Was My Valley (1941), which won five Oscars (including Best Picture over both Citizen Kane and Maltese Falcon) despite being about stuff like unions and the Welsh.
- If you haven't seen On the Waterfront (1954) you probably think it is about a man with marbles in his mouth, who is way into bitching. And you're right! But there is also a pretty lady, and dock workers, and Elia Kazan directed it, and Karl Malden is fantastic as a hip progressive priest who just gets it, and it is also about how the only people who are not into organized labor are gangsters, and the only people that are into being gangsters are trash, so therefore unions are great. (Bitching, that's on you.) It won eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Screenplay, Director, and Bitcher.
- Pajama Game (1957) is kind of about labor unions, but with moves by Fosse and tits by Doris Day. It is one of those musicals where they say numbers in the song: The worst kind of musical. At the end of the movie, the man and lady decide to both make pajamas together, which is a metaphor for labor and management finally fucking, just like how Marx said they would. Collective ownership of the means of deez nuts.
- I'm All Right Jack (1959) has Peter Sellars as a Bolshevik, which frankly I can't think of anything worse than that, in terms of working conditions. I mean it's not Maria Full of Drugs bad, but it's pretty bad.
- Harlan County, USA (1976) was the first documentary about labor concerns. Before that most film footage was just people walking around on very high wires. It is set in a state called Kentucky, which did not take kindly to unions and often sent the likes of Rivers Cuomo to bust their chops and also faces. This was not that long ago, in terms of America.
*(Note: While researching this piece, I was tempted to make a joke that Monday will also be Labor Day in Canada, our politely menacing neighbor to the north, only they would spell it "Labour Day." Guess what. I looked it up, and it is real. I made it up in my wizard mind, it backflipped 120 years backwards into being a real holiday, and you're welcome, Canada. You get one too. Good job on Anne of Green Gables by the way. That is one tight ass book.)
Doesn't that song suck? God. I can't believe one person, even a hundred years ago when they didn't know better, I can't believe one person wasn't like, "Do you guys feel like what we are doing is kind of bullshit? Anybody?" Anyway, so there you have it. More than enough things for you to watch this glorious weekend that was ... paid for by unions, or however that works. Unless you have to work this weekend, and then I guess you should think about starting a union?
Because that, John or Jane Doe Workerbee, is bullshit. You are the hope of the world. I want you to get up, and kick some beats, and shake that booty, and get full-on, balls to the wall, industrious. Because your day is coming!
(It's Labor Day. It's on Monday.)