If the writers strike lasts for weeks or months to come weall need to come up with ways to deal. Michael Slezak has a great plan ofaction, and I plan to fill the void with the help of my Netflix queue. But the picketing and stalemate has inspired me to share my favorite on-screen strikes.
The most irrational/abandoned strike is Kramer’s one-manstandoff with H&H Bagels on Seinfeld.When his boss refuses to give him a day off for Festivus, Kramer goes onstrike and sabotages the steam valve on the bagel machine. Yet, despite hisnoble intentions, Kramer caves when he gets hungry without ever achievinganything. Alright, no actual workers’ rights were actually at stake here, butthe episode certainly explained why Kramer never worked.
Without a doubt the best strike set to music is Newsies. Christian Bale is Jack Kelly, ateen newsie who leads other newsboys in a strike against Joseph Pulitzer(Robert Duvall). The movie’s a cheese-fest, but I’m a sucker for any story inwhich kids successfully challenge adult authority. Honestly, it doesn’t takemuch to make me want to watch Newsies butit’s always better to have an excuse ready when watching a movie directed by aman who also did High School Musical. Watch the start of the newsies’ strike, and you’ll see what I mean (oh, and forgive Christian Bale for his bad New York accent, it was one of his early movies).
The most poignant strike overshadowed by a dancing boy isthe coal miner’s strike in BillyElliot. The miner’s struggle takes a backseat to the dancing, but the filmrealistically portrays the difficult choices that families must face during astrike. Jackie, Billy’s dad, eventually crosses the picket line because of hisbelief in Billy (“It’s for wee Billy! He may be a f—ing genius for all we know!). But, this being the movies, the town rallies behind Billy andcomes up with the money to send him on his audition, so Jackie doesn’t have tobe a scab.
Finally, there is no on-screen strike more iconic than in Norma Rae, which is based on a truestory. Sally Field won her first Oscar for her portrayal of the titular singlemother who fights unionize her textile mill. One of the movie’s iconic moments comeswhen Norma Rae stands up on a table in the middle of the shop, holding acardboard sign that says, “UNION” (pictured). It is animage that has come to epitomize NormaRae and disenfranchised workers in general.
Now that I’ve revealed my picks, it’s your turn PopWatchers.Besides miners, mill workers, and Kramer, whose fight against workplace injustice have you enjoyedon-screen? Share your favorites below.