Monday, December 12, 2011

Actually, a bunch of people were better off when George Bailey was never born...

Today, during the annual gingerbread making and decorating and watching waaay too many Christmas movies day, I realized that It's A Wonderful Life isn't QUITE the happy ending Mr. Capra might want you to think it is.

From infancy, we are taught to believe that it is the story of each of us. We all positively impact other people's lives in ways we can never even imagine.

That is what we are taught.

Lies, all lies.

I mean, sure, there were a few people who were negatively affected by George never being born: his children, Mr. Gower, Harry -- and the guys Harry saved in WWII.

But what about all those others?

Well, first of all, Mr. Potter was doing much better without the existence of George (but he's the bad guy, so this isn't allowed to fully count).

And Nick. Look at Nick. With George alive, he was a minimum wage employee at a beat-up, old bar. With George never being born, Nick was a business-owner. He OWNED the bar. It was Nick's Place. He had power and control over his life.
 Look how happy he is throwing people out of the bar -- WITH HIS NAME ON IT!

And then there's Mary. There is absolutely no way in heck that Mary ended up being a depressed, spinster librarian just because George was never born. She would have just ended up marrying Sam Wainwright and, you know, being rich and happy and traveling the world and being rich.

The whole "Mary had no life without George" plot-line is absolutely ridiculous. My Mum always tries to convince me that it's about them being "soul-mates" or some such nonsense.


 Mary without George? YEAH RIGHT. 

Reality of Mary without George:
(Off relaxing on the beach somewhere on an expensive vacation)

Some people were left absolutely unaffected. Bert the cop really couldn't care less if George was born or not. And in some ways, life was better without George (Pottersville was clearly a more hopping town for a trigger-happy cop like Bert).

And well, Martini was just out of the picture. CLEARLY, he was the only one actually smart enough to get out of bloody Bedford Falls/Pottersville/whatever.

Well, not the ONLY one. Annie wasn't around when George wasn't born. The logical assumption is that she used all the money she was saving over the years (that she ended up wasting -- ON GEORGE BAILEY) to leave that cursed place forever and have an actual happy life.

Also, this is unrelated, but I've always been incredibly confused as to why George not existing meant that Ernie's wife and child left him? Huh?

And, also, George never being born means that Uncle Billy lives in an insane asylum. WHAT?! Clearly, this guy should not be allowed to run around free and loose. So, in fact, when George is alive he is allowing a dangerously insane man to not only roam free -- but to also hold a position of high responsibility relating to money. WHAT?!


And these are just a few of the reasons why George Bailey never being born actually worked out well for a lot of people. I know this is probably a shock to your system (if you too were taught from infancy that this film is hopeful and uplifting), but it's the truth.

Revised lesson from the film: each person's life affects other people's lives. However, unless you are directly responsible for stopping old guys from poisoning young children or saving future Medal of Honor winners from an early death, you may just be the person standing in the way of other people being happy and financially secure...AND OWNING THEIR OWN BUSINESS.

 "Nothing special, just doing a little bird-watching on the Amazon...WITH EXPENSIVE GOLD-PLATED BINOCULARS! I'm so happy I married that nice Sam Wainwright and got out of that scary Bedford Falls/Pottersville/whatever place!"

-Millie (I'm not a grinch.)


emma wallace said...

This. Was. Too. Funny.

Anonymous said...

Millie, I love you forever. My last two days have been kind of horrid AND YOU KEEP WRITING AWESOMENESS AND MAKING THEM AMAZING.

Reality is...the world would be a much better place without Jimmy Stewart teaching children and families (CHILDREN AND FAMILIES I TELL YOU!!!) mixed up lessons and values like this.

I saw It's a Wonderful Life when I was ten, because my dad hadn't ever seen it and had the urge to find out what all the hype was about. (Never mind that it was September.) We all disliked it, and it's never been in our house again. End of happy story. :D

kate gabrielle said...

First of all, what is in the Washington water this week?! Geez you're just churning out awesomeness left and right!!

Secondly, Best. Post. Ever. Seriously. The Mary with/without George thing is probably the single most amazing thing I've ever seen in my entire life, which includes Dirk Bogarde's face, rainbows and a refrigerator full of grapefruit juice.

I mean, I want to build a shrine to this post. If you ever stopped blogging I seriously think I would buy a ticket to Washington (I'd fly, despite my fear of heights, because of the urgency of the situation) and threaten to tie you to a chair, and force you to watch Randolph Scott movies for your entire life if you didn't sit in front of your computer and churn out more posts.

Mercurie said...

Oh, that was hilarious. Although I do have to point out that I always thought that in the world where George was never born Potter really owned the bar and just let Nick put his name on it! And I'm not so sure about Mary marrying Sam Wainwright. Think about it. Without George around Potter would probably concentrate on the other rich guy in town--Sam! He probably hired someone to knock him off! That's how Mary really wound up an old maid. LOL.

Anyhow, great post, Millie. :-)

Mercurie said...

Oh, that last post just made me think of a great line if my scenario was correct.

George: "But what about Sam Wainwright? Surely he did okay without me being around."
Clarence (shakes head): No, George, without you around to pester Potter, Potter got bored and hired a hit man to kill Sam. Sam died because you were never born!

I think my version of It's A Wonderful Life would have been a lot darker than Capra's. ...

NoirGirl said...

Millie, I bow to the hilarity of your genius. *curtsy*

That photo of Mary living it up on a beach without George had me laughing for 5 minutes!

And NICK! George completely deprived him of his right to the American dream!

If only there were a Sam Wainwright handing out gold plated binoculars for the rest of us...

PuppyLovePrincess said...


Audrey said...

I used to love this movie, but I think it might be ruined for me now. A lot of times when I was really depressed this would remind me how each of our lives had value and we are all an irreplaceable link. I guess that's not really true after all. Who knows, perhaps a lot of people would be better off without me! I know it's "just a movie," but still.

Elisabeth said...

No, no, you're forgetting...Sam Wainwright built his factory in Rochester because George wasn't there to suggest Bedford Falls (and therefore everybody that was thrown out of work when the old factory closed didn't get new jobs!).

I think Mary ending up unmarried makes sense, but they did overdo it a little bit with the old-maid makeup and clothes. Just because George was never born doesn't mean she'd have lost her fashion sense.

Maria said...

This is great! Well written. :) It reminds me of a NY Times article written in '08 (his wasn't as funny though).

"... George, a head taller than everyone else, becomes the pathetic older sibling creepily hanging around Harry’s high school graduation party. That night George humiliates his future wife, Mary (Donna Reed), by forcing her to hide behind a bush naked, and the evening ends with his father’s sudden death."

Seriously, George.

Anonymous said...

So your post inspired me to go onto the Wikipedia for It's a Wonderful Life which led me to the Wikipedia for the Greatest Gift, which is the original name of the story which inspired said James Stewart film. The story says that Mary was married to somebody else in the reality without George. I'm not sure who this somebody else represents, Sam maybe? The story is at

Sally said...

So amazing!!! Brilliant! You are too funny! You point out so many things that I hadn't even thought of. I have been frustrated by the whole spinster Mary thing. I'm glad other people have been frustrated too. Great post!!

Millie said...

Emma: Thanks! :-D

Emmy: Thank you! And yes, Jimmy is awful. End of story. haha

Kaaaaaate: :''''') THAAANK YOU!

That compliment is greater than any could ever imagine! DIRK BOGARDE'S FACE. GRAPEFRUIT JUICE?! You have truly outdone yourself in the comments department!

YOU'D FLY FOR ME. I feel your love in this comment! haha

Terry: This could all be very true. Many alternate timelines are possible! haha

Casey: Awwwww! Thanks! :-D


Yeah, don't you just! ;-D

Elisabeth: No. He still built it in Bedford Falls. STOP MESSING WITH MY STORY. ;-DDD

Exactly. Are they trying to tell us that George told Mary what to wear?!

Maria: Haha! That's awesome and hilarious!

stefmagura: OH MY GOSH. Exactly. I knew Capra was messing with us! ;-D

Sally: Thanks so much! I know! It's just idiotic to think that Mary wouldn't have a had a better life without George! haha

Millie said...

Audrey (for some reason your comment just got published): I still love the movie too and I really hope I haven't spoiled it for you! Also, YOU'RE AWESOME. The world could not get on without you. :-)

Audrey said...

Sorry that my comment was a little to...harsh. :) I know that the post was tongue-in-cheek.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Ken Vee said...

Love this movie but agree whole heartedly about Mary's fate without George being weak. I always thought the spinster thing was ridiculous because Mary… that is, Donna Reed... was possibly the most irresistible woman ever created. Dusting book shelves in Bedford Falls/Pottersville because George didn't exist?! Incredible! Always figured it would have been a more believable angle if George got to see that Mary had married Wainwright, but was a shell of herself– depressed and maybe even drinking– because she was rich but in a loveless marriage. Wainwright was in love with his business and not really in love with her. Can't you see her staring at the old house she and George lived in, broken windows and all, having one of those dialoging moments, spilling the awful truth? Throwing rocks and wishing for things she'll never have?


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