Sometimes all you need is a good laugh to remind us who we are and our place in the world. Or in this case, that as Americans, we are the wretched refuse.
We often forget how this country got to be as great as it is (yes, it’s still great) and how we’re different than anywhere else on earth. With the two “morally flexible” people battling to represent us, it’s time for a reality check from one of our greatest Americans in one of our greatest works of art: Bill Murray in Stripes.
We get up from our plush, warm beds, check our $800 phones and take for granted that the heat is going, the lights work, and the only intruder is a stinky, unwanted dog on the bed. Instead, we bitch about everything, and I mean everything, while feeling entitled to whatever’s on Facebook that day. We bitch because we can.
You’d think we could depend on our elected officials to remind us that we got to be the world’s superpower because those before us worked their ass off and built it. After all, they’re supposed to be the best of us. Instead, all the last few months have shown us is the two people running for president don’t give a damn how this country became great. They have more in common with who we were fleeing when we opened shop on Plymouth Rock than those who busted their ass to make it what it is today. Who better to jog our memory than Private John Winger in the speech at the top of the page.
Bill, playing Private John Winger in the U.S. Army, delivers an Oscar-worthy speech (rivaled only by his “It Just Doesn’t Matter” speech in “Meatballs“) reminding the ragtag bunch of misfits who they really are:
“We’re not Watusi. We’re not Spartans. We’re Americans, with a capital ‘A’.”
OK, I had to look up Watusi. I assumed it was an ancient tribe or something (bingo!), but he’s laying the foundation for the whole message. The next line is what we need to remember until our country is invaded by Canada.
“You know what that means? Do ya’? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We’re the underdog. We’re mutts!” Here’s proof (touches the nose of the guy next to him): his nose is cold! But there’s no animal that’s more faithful, that’s more loyal, more loveable than the mutt.”
Now, that passage is key. We’re not the same — not German, Irish, French, or even Spartans. We’re mutts. A fantastic blend of ethnicities and cultures, which makes us almost superhuman. We took people and traditions from everywhere in the world and blended it into a place people risk their lives to make a new life. We get away from that, and the country dies.
Winger’s on a roll now. He segues nicely from the mutt analogy to what the platoon has in common: they’re all stupid. Well, there’s more.
“So we’re all dogfaces, we’re all very, very different, but there is one thing that we all have in common: we were all stupid enough to enlist in the Army. We’re mutants … … we’re soldiers. But we’re American soldiers! We’ve been kicking ass for 200 years! We’re ten and one!”
The ten and one line is fantastic and makes me laugh every time, but he hammers home the point. It doesn’t matter where we came from or what differences we have. We’re Americans. We’ve been kicking ass for 200 years. With one candidate blasting every ethnic group under the sun and the other calling her opponents supporters “deplorable,” neither one is fit to lead this country. They’ll both divide us. We’re in desperate need to be led and to come together like the misfits in Stripes.
That speech brought the platoon together because it put everything into perspective. Their reward for putting aside their petty, selfish differences, and succeeding when things looked bleak was a cushy gig in Italy. Hopefully, our reward for doing the same is another 200 years of kicking ass.
We just may need to wait another four years.