Oh, the Banality! The Suckiness of ‘The People Speak’


woody-guthrie

The History Channel presented a night of delight for lefty losers Sunday by airing “The People Speak,” a program developed by Marxist history professor Howard Zinn.

Of course, anyone with more than two ounces of brain matter was better occupied catching the season finale of Showtime’s “Dexter.”

In “Speak,” Zinn — author of the decidely anti-American but, sadly, influential “A People’s History of the United States” — purported to give voices to the unknown “little” men (and women) who have fought tyranny and the American way for centuries.

The result was a bonanza of banality that turned the idea of history on its ear. A host of semi-celebrities — Matt Damon, Viggo Mortensen, Jasmine Guy, Marisa Tomei, Bob Dylan and so on — recited the deathless words of such historical figures as Susan B. Anthony, Eugene V. Debs and the wife of a 1930s sit-down striker with all the earnestness and much of the talent of a first-grade class putting on a Thanksgiving pageant.

Ah, but there was no giving of thanks here. The performers howled their assigned grievances against the panoply of hate and evil that filled America’s past: rich vs. poor, white vs. black, men vs. women, everyone vs. the Indians, The Hulk vs. Wolverine.

I could faintly hear a commentator gasp, “Oh, the banality!” as the giant Zinn gasbag burst into flames and rained cinders across the TV screen.

Curiously, some folks — guys named Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt (TR or FDR), Truman and Reagan — had no star-studded lip-synchers. Guess they didn’t have much to say of value.

Oh, another note: Although Zinn and his compadres focused on the forgotten souls of American history who fought for “social justice,” they apparently couldn’t come up with enough actual people to criticize the American way of life. Thus, the producers resorted to using quotes from such novels as John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” and Dalton Trumbo’s “Johnny Got His Gun,” plus various musical compositions, to push their agenda.

According to the New York Times, “The filmmakers are developing school curriculum materials for the film and releasing an extended version on DVD.” Great. The kids already hate history; now Zinn and his partners will be crafting a program that will make kids sleepy and
stupid.

On the plus side: It was pretty clever at the end when the ravaged cadaver of Woody Guthrie stumbled onstage and whacked Bruce Springsteen on the head with his guitar in the middle of “This Land Is Your Land.”

Before Woody staggered off stage left, I swear the old troubadour muttered, “And don’t let me ever hear your ‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town’ again, either.”

Click here for more critiques of The People Speak

Click here for more critiques of The People Speak

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