Something horrible happened to me tonight. I was showing Casablanca to my cousin who had never seen it before. I can recite every line. So I knew exactly what was going to come out of Ingrid Bergman’s mouth when she said, “I wish I didn’t love you so much.” But something shattered and I thought, “Wait a minute, I don’t believe her.” I’ve believed her every single time and suddenly I doubted her. I doubted her and the whole movie was ruined. Forever. Not since I woke up to find my dad putting tooth fairy money under my pillow have I felt so viscerally that I’d been swindled and betrayed. And then it occurred to me: so this is disillusionment.
I’m a cynic and not prone to hope. Reality rarely takes me by surprise. So I’ve been curious to understand what strange fire must burn within all these embittered Americans. Now I know.
All this time I assumed that we are in control of our expectations, that we should know better than to anticipate benefits from a government that could never pay for it even if it were right for it to do so, that we shouldn’t assume that everything must be fair and equal for us all to be free.
Yet some ideas of entitlement happen because we’ve been told over and over that it’s a logical and rational thing to demand. Why wouldn’t characters in a movie do exactly the same thing with every single viewing? They’re trapped in black-and-white for a ninety-minute existence, what else are they going to do? Human behavior creates a much more complex world for us, however, and even people reading a script can do the unexpected. If Rick and Ilsa can suddenly start doing new things, then anything in our environment can shift.
So here’s the problem with disillusioned progressives: they believe in “change” but there are a lot of things they firmly resist changing. (Some giant unfunded programs come to mind.) They believe in “change” but only insofar as it is the correct change (odd considering how they don’t keep track of the money they spend, heyo!). They want fair change, clean change, everyone-gets-the-same change. That’s not how it works, though.
I was upset that a favorite movie was altered. My disenchanted fury comes from the fact that something was different this time. Their malcontent isn’t because things are being altered, they’re just being altered in the “wrong” way. It’s not that it’s different, it’s that it’s not “their” different. Their true disillusionment is with the reality that change is not a phenomenon that only comes from one direction.
The task for us then is not to let change be co-opted again. The task for you specifically is to reassure me that Ilsa did still have feelings for Rick. Comments section, go.