Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Caddyshack Election

If you are among the dazed and confused trying to understand how a boorish, showy, real-estate tycoon outsider just got elected President, I suggest you re-watch the classic 1980 snobs vs slobs comedy, "Caddyshack".

In "Caddyshack", Rodney Dangerfield plays Al Czervik, a boorish, showy, real-estate tycoon outsider who upsets the snobby establishment at a country club with the prophetic name, "Bushwood". The parallels between the movie and what just happened in the 2016 election are nothing short of astounding.  It's almost like the writers had a crystal ball and Donald Trump in mind when they created the Al Czervik character.

The central snob vs slob conflict is between the snobby Bushwood club president, Judge Smails played by Ted Knight, and the slobby outsider, Czervik, who is a guest at the club.

Dangerfield/Czervik trolls Knight/Smails relentlessly throughout the movie.  He gets under his skin by hurling insulting nicknames at him, breaking every club rule, mocking his fashion choices, and then finally by dropping anchor on his new yacht, "The Flying WASP".  As Smails is sobbing and watching his precious yacht sink, Czervik admonishes, "Hey, you scratched my anchor!"

In what may be the most relevant line of the movie, Czervik,  observing the "low-energy" music and dancing at Bushwood, blurts out, "Whaddaya say we bust up this joint?"  At which point he throws a handful of money at the bandstand, tells them to get some music lessons, and the place instantly transforms into a raucous disco.    

Smails assumes Czervik is visiting Bushwood to join the club, but Czervik has other ideas...

Smails - "You! You! You have worn out your welcome at Bushwood, Sir!
Czervik - "Is that so?  Who made you Pope of this dump?"
Smails - "Dump?  Bushwood a dump? Well, I'll guarantee you you'll never be a member here!"
Czervik - "Member? You think I'd join this crummy snobatorium?  This whole place sucks!
Smails - (stammering...)
Czervik - "That's right, it sucks!  Only reason I'm here is maybe I'll buy it!"
Smails -  "Buy bushwood!  Why you..."  (proceeds to try to strangle him)

Insulting comments about women abound.  "Last time I saw a mouth like that, it had a hook in it!" "You're a lovely lady; you must have been something before electricity!" "Hey, you're a lot of woman; wanna make $14 dollars the hard way?" and  "He called me a baboon; thinks I'm his wife!"

In the only scene where Czervik is with a woman, she's a hot young blond in a tight red dress.

In another scene, after unabashedly farting loudly at the dinner table, Czervik has the whole table in hysterics saying, "That sounded like someone stepped on a duck!"

In just about every scene, Czervik is flaunting his wealth and generously tipping everyone he comes in contact with.  At one point he bribes the referee in the illicit golf tournament denouement.

He even brags about doing business with the Chinese. "We just bought property right behind the Great Wall; on the good side!"

This is not the first time a movie has been relevant to a political election.  Think about Barack Obama and "Blazing Saddles".  And then there was Ronald Reagan with "Knute Rockne, All American" and "Bedtime for Bonzo".

Of course there are limits to what we can learn about this election from a movie made in 1980.  But it is interesting that the most popular and enduring character from "Caddyshack" is Rodney Dangerfield's Al Czervik, the boorish, showy, real-estate tycoon outsider who upsets the snobby establishment.

My point is, if you are one of those disheartened souls in a funk over the outcome of this election, go watch "Caddyshack" and have a good laugh.  You might even learn why so many Americans took a chance on the outsider instead of opting for Mrs. Smails.

(Update: More parallels:   Mrs. Smails faints in the movie.  And Czervik only wins the denouement golf tournament after getting help from Danny Noonan (James Comey?), who turns on Smails. There's also an unlikely assist from Bill Murray's character whose pyrotechnics help sink the final putt (Julian Assange? Anthony Weiner?).)  

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