Trade places 

Fortunately, my daughters share my love of watching movies from my own childhood. Before they ever knew about "Frozen," "The Gruffalo" or "The Incredibles," my girls could quote lines from "The Princess Bride," "The Dark Crystal" and the original "Annie." But many of the older movies I rewatch with them haven't always held up, often due to sexist and racist themes. I have to tread carefully when choosing what to share, lest they be convinced that, as portrayed in the old Disney movies, being rescued by one's true love should be of the utmost importance to a woman. As they age, I'll probably guide them away from some of the more problematic teen hits that were staples for me and my girlfriends, such as "Heathers," "Sixteen Candles" and "The Breakfast Club."

One old favorite that I may just have to figure out how to edit myself or wait for the inevitable, likely inferior and more politically correct remake is "Trading Places," starring Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis. If you haven't seen it, beware of racial stereotypes, homophobic slurs and lots of sexist jokes. But underneath all that mess is a brilliant retelling of "The Prince and the Pauper." Only instead of two lookalike boys agreeing to switch places, it tells the story of a rich white man (Aykroyd) and a homeless black man (Murphy) who are pawns in an experiment conducted by two even richer white men in a dispute over nature vs. nurture. Aykroyd's character, a self-important man of privilege, finds himself incarcerated, homeless and broke after being framed for selling drugs. Murphy's role is that of rags to riches after being given money and a job.

It's Aykroyd's character's arc that gives me the most pleasure. One minute he is smugly sitting in an exclusive, all-white, all-male private club and the next he is facing theft and drug charges, his credit cards canceled, his bank accounts frozen and abandoned by all his fancy friends after being framed as part of the experiment.

I confess that over the years I've wished a similar fall from grace upon a number of people. I've come to call it the "Trading Places Award." The recipient is someone who has shown no compassion or empathy for someone else in a tough situation. As part of their prize, they, like Aykroyd's character, have to trade places, at least for a bit, with those for whom they show such little regard. For example, I'd love to bestow the award upon those Trump supporters who simply say to the undocumented and to DACA and TPS recipients facing deportation, "Become a citizen or leave." I'd like to see them in a country where they face few prospects and increased violence. I'd like to see them leave everything they know to travel to a foreign country to work for subpar wages to make a better life for their children, only to be harassed and insulted by those who claim to be Christians. I'd like to see them try to navigate the immigration system, only to find out the wait is a decade or more to enter legally.

I'd also give the award to men like U.S. Reps. Steve Womack and French Hill after they laughed and celebrated the vote to cut health insurance for many women and children. How would they feel as they hopefully checked the GoFundMe account created to help pay the medical bills and living expenses after a child got sick and the medications were so expensive they couldn't afford them and pay rent, only to find the donations just weren't coming in?

I think the one that gives me the most satisfaction is imagining President Trump, with all his fancy, albeit incompetent, attorneys, sitting in jail like many men and women across the country, unable to afford bail, unable to afford an attorney, missing out on the lives of his children and grandchildren as he waits for a visit from his overworked and underpaid court-appointed attorney, who has 40 other clients to see before him. Would he then still laugh and encourage police officers to not be "too nice" with those they arrest?

I could go on and on. And, yes, there would be suffering by those award winners. But before you think I'm too terrible a person, in the end of the movie, Aykroyd's character learns from his misfortune and has a sort of redemption. So, maybe that's what I'm wishing for. Not suffering, but sympathy for others. At least that's what I'll tell my girls when they are old enough to watch the movie.



Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Autumn Tolbert

  • Representative Denise Garner on listening and fixing income inequality

    Freshman Democratic Rep. Denise Garner (Fayetteville) gained national attention in her successful race against former Republican Rep. Charlie Collins, the sponsor of the bill that put guns on college campuses. The retired oncology nurse practitioner, mom, grandmother, and non-profit founder sat down with me recently to talk about the biggest problem facing Arkansas: income inequality.
    • Jan 17, 2019
  • Rep. Nicole Clowney on education, disagreements and who runs the world

    Freshman Rep. Nicole Clowney (D-Fayetteville) took time out of her schedule recently to answer a few questions about the expectations of others, the biggest problem facing Arkansas today and what she's listening to as she prepares to represent District 86.
    • Jan 16, 2019
  • Rep. Jamie Scott ready to do the hard work

    Rep. Jamie Scott (North Little Rock) became the youngest African-American woman in the Arkansas Legislature. Scott, the executive director for Pulaski County Youth Services, defeated opponent Isaac Henry in the District 37 Democratic primary and went on to run unopposed in the general election. Recently, she took time to answer my questions about what problem she believes needs fixing in Arkansas, the pressures of being a woman elected in 2018 and the music she is listening to as she prepares for her first week of the 2019 legislative session.
    • Jan 15, 2019
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Wrasslin' Trump

    I first thought the Sunday morning video clip of President Trump wrestling was something from one of the many parody accounts on Twitter.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • A fresh start

    For much of my adult life, I've tried to eat black-eyed peas and greens every New Year's Day, worrying that if I didn't, the year would be just awful. I've made resolutions. I've sworn off fast food. I've pledged to go to the gym three times a week.
    • Jan 4, 2018

Latest in Autumn Tolbert

  • Beware of 'unity'

    Beware the sweet lull of that siren song calling for "unity" and for us to "come together." It's the latest incarnation of the call for "civility," and just as dangerous.
    • Dec 13, 2018
  • Of the people

    In a recent video posted to Instagram, U.S. Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who ran as a Democrat in New York's 14th Congressional District and is also a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, walks in front of the United States Capitol.
    • Nov 29, 2018
  • On to 2020

    I'll add my two cents to the chorus of advice for Democrats in 2020: Do not limit your imagination by falling back on candidates who have previously appeared on the ballot.
    • Nov 15, 2018
  • More »

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Of Freud and foolishness

    • How nice... the lawyerly Democritus offers a personal criticism, without benefit of the reason for…

    • on January 18, 2019
  • Re: Of Freud and foolishness

    • Please tell me that the Times did not give Lyons money to produce this drivel…

    • on January 17, 2019

© 2019 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation