My wife and I recently watched “The Company Men” movie starring Tommy Lee Jones, Ben Affleck and Chris Cooper in a somber film about the human impact of the 2008 recession.
Stick with me as I explain why this 2010 movie impressed me with its portrayal of a ruthless corporation that jettisoned its top executives to create a favorable bottom line that would attract a deep-pocket buyer—and the connection that I believe is relevant to today’s Republican Party.
While movies are fictional and produced with hard-to-believe literary latitude, I believe that some truths and lessons emerge. Purists who question the value of movies will disagree with me and wonder if Covid has clouded my judgment.
Two of the three characters in “The Company Men” discover better, more meaningful lives after falling precipitously from their elevated corporate perches. One commits suicide; the economic and psychological pain was too much to bear. He refused to accept help.
The Jones character, who helped found the shipbuilding company with his best college friend and current heartless CEO, tries to inject compassion and humanity into the personnel firings. He fails miserably.
I will stop here to avoid revealing the end. But, for the sake of this column, I will draw an analogy between the Republican Party still influenced by our soulless ex-president and driven to support Trump’s lie about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, and the fictional corporation coldly unconcerned about loyal, long-serving employees.
Consider the Trump-aligned disciples now controlling the party as shareholders obsessed with winning, morality be damned. Today’s Democratic policies represent the demon, like the 2008 doldrums portrayed in the movie.
The Republican National Committee (RNC), catering to Trump, decided nearly two weeks ago to censure Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for daring to criticize the ex-president and his role in inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The RNC resolution characterized the assault on democracy as ‘legitimate political discourse.”
Cheney and Kinzinger committed the heinous act of honesty. Sad commentary.
I view Cheney and Kinzinger as analogous to the Jones and Affleck characters, and the RNC as a misguided corporation. To take a further leap of faith, the Jones persona and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are similar in their willingness to condemn the Party for censuring two well-respected members of Congress.
I referred earlier to GOP members as shareholders seeking to punish those who do not hew to the current party line: the Jan. 6 assault was not as awful as portrayed by Democrats, that the protesters were patriots and the election results warranted being overturned.
Their rhetoric and behavior are provocative. Their logic has serious flaws. Irrational anger is their antidote.
“The Company Men” is an excellent film. Its actors are superb. The direction is tight and nuanced. It does not overly dramatize the economic downturn. Still in our Covid mode of streaming movies on a nightly basis, we watched this film as part of binging on performances of Tommie Lee Jones. We knew nothing about this movie.
And its story captured the human impact of the Great Recession.
Twelve years after its release, it also speaks directly to a once-proud party that formerly considered truth a noble attribute and respect of election results a necessity. It now wallows in a swamp of disinformation and grievances.
The movie is well worth seeing. You can decide if it is a metaphor for the state of the Republican Party.
Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.