Esther Williams, Barack Obama, And You

My trilogy — the late Esther Williams, President Obama, and you — speaks to my sense of history. How? As I see it, each represents the profound human yearning for security. That sense of safety which allows you to walk a street in day without fear and at night with the confidence at least help is always available.

The President is currently under political attack for what some say is over-playing the Help card; your position is probably somewhere between those two security extremes; but what is beloved MGM star Esther Williams doing in my trilogy?

Here, let me tell you.

If you’re under 50 you may only think of Esther as that sexy but silly swimmer in all those froth musicals from the 40s & 50s. You know, where at the drop of a drop she suddenly appears in some spangled pool surrounded with some spangled mermaids doing their spangled acrobatics. When seen on late-night television re-runs, Esther may look about as silly to you as she does spangled.

And yet.

You gotta GPS your brain back to those years in order to figure out why in God’s name millions of us back then savored her over-the-top aquatic extravaganzas. It was the very security they represented…! This same one-word description associated with the President’s actions was surely front-and-center with Esther Williams’ actions. She and the whole sugary casts in her sugary movies swept us up into the security of an over-the-rainbow world where everything and everyone was safe to be with. There with Esther we in the audience were cocooned into a charming wisp of never-never land which helped us forget the wars and causalities and the social unrest outside the movie-house doors.

At least for those few hours in the safety and security of the dark.

Today? Well, today there is perhaps just as much insecurity outside those doors as ever. Wars and causalities and social unrest are forever. But now what makes it even worse, Hollywood has decided they will no longer delude us with frothy over-the-rainbow films. Instead, today’s grittier films are often even grittier than the world itself. Our screens ooze with blood, mayhem, evil spirits, and doomed planets. The once-upon-a-time feeling of MGM security is no more. Brothers and sisters — we now go to the cineplex to be scared right out of our wits and wishes!

Is that a good thing? Some psychologists argue: yes. Is that a bad thing? Other psychologists argue no. Yes or no, this is the way it is movie fans. Either way, RIP Esther. Here’s one grownup kid who’ll miss you

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