12 Movies of Christmas 1: Trading Places

Burnt out on all my music I’ve listened to all year, I’ve painted with some familiar movies as background noise. Here’s a log of twelve Christmas movies that I’ve vaguely paid attention to over the past few weeks:

This movie is a crazy lesson in economics, rounded out by angry racist bad guys. As far as Christmas goes, there are few more memorable scenes than when Dan Ackroyd’s dirty homeless character lines up at the buffet table dressed up as Santa shoving a salmon in his coat.

Trading Places

The opening montage during the credits sets the tone for the entire film – scenes of a bustling – and very 80’s – Philadelphia shows off the true grit cities used to possess. Scenes of the blue collar workers are set against bankers in suits and shows off the growing economic divide of Reagan’s America. The Rocky statue was also rightly placed outside the Spectrum and nowhere near the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

This divide is rich fodder for almost every 80’s movie. Most of the time the plots of the movies make the jokes punch up – the regular guy, goofs, cast offs, blue collar union workers, homeless con artists, or losers are the heroes of these movies. The bad guys are always clear – assholes, rich entitled dicks, racists, or even Nazis. Somewhere along the line, Americans stopped rooting for the underdog and began to believe being rich dicks really should be respected, trusted and beloved. It kinda starts making the utopia that we’re living in make sense now, doesn’t it?

While the ‘expectations of race’ and liberal use of the word ‘negro’ to clearly out the bad guys filled the opening scenes  of the movie, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the pork bellies futures being a key plot point in the rich getting richer. It was hard not to think of modern day fat Ackroyd hawking vodka sold in cheap crystal skulls and the epic anchor pork bellies put on HIlary Clinton’s career.

Birth of a Nation: American Exceptionalism in Action

Scene: Onboard an Amtrak train, heading from Philadelphia to New York City
Eddie Murphy’s Billy Ray Valentine, disguised as an exchange student from Cameroon :
“Merry New Year!”
Paul Gleeson’s (who also played this self important prick) Clarence Beeks, pissing out any joy anybody else can hold:
“Happy New Year. In this country, we say ‘Happy New Year’.”

Separated at Birth? Gaten Matarazzo & Al Franken???

Al Franken Stranger Things

Truth, In A Quote

“The good part is that no matter whether our clients make money, or lose money, Duke & Duke get the commissions.”

-Randolph Duke

This movie had it all: lessons in economics, ape sodomy,future disgraced senators, and a look back at a time when not all of America was a racist shithead and rich assholes were given the greatest gift money can’t buy:
Billy Ray Valentine : “Yeah. You know, it occurs to me that the best way you hurt rich people is by turning them into poor people.”
Which reminds me of an old saying I heard years and years agio: “Being poor isn’t bad, going poor is the problem.”

Cameo of the film:

Trading Places

Ah, the World Trade Center. This scene captures the influence of Islamic architecture played in the design of the original towers. This Slate article fleshes out the ornate details and Islamic relationship in the two ugliest buildings that were ever built in New York.

Christmas Message

Usually a lot of Christmas movies show off how family and goodwill towards men prevails over big gifts, money issues and all the trappings of greed and jealousy. In Trading Places, the Christmas Spirit and the intertwined fortunes of our two main characters both overcome the spectrums of affluence and poverty. Instead of teaching the greedy Duke brothers a lesson about true values, they simply screw them over and spend the rest of their days on a tropical beach with their lovely partners in bikinis. It’s a nice Christmas wish anyway.