Monday, December 24, 2007

Defending Bedford Falls

Several years ago, I read the article All Hail Pottersville!, a defense of, well, Pottersville.

If you recall from "It's a Wonderful Life", George Bailey gets to see the world if he had never been born. People dead because he wasn't there. Entire communities gone. A town turned into the personal playground of a rich land baron. We get to see how Bedford Falls would have become Pottersville, a place full of drink, dancing, gambling, and all manner of entertainment.

In his article, Mr. Kamiya defends Pottersville. Compared to Bedford Falls, it's a happening place. Who wouldn't want to live in Pottersville? Bedford Falls just has people walking about, maybe strolling through the grass. There's one loose woman of morals, while Pottersville has scores of ladies ready to do whatever you want, whenever you want.

Mr. Kamiya wrote an article so strong, that for years, I've been troubled by it. I'm certain he wrote it as a sarcastic commentary upon the movie and our society. But - there was a kernel of truth to what he said. Pottersville *is* a fun place. Why wouldn't the people of Bedford Falls want to live there?

And then, after years of pondering this issue, I understood the flaw in Mr. Kamiya's defense of Pottersville:

It's a sham.

You see, the people of Bedford Falls *could* have everything that Pottersville have. They have no shortage of people who could make money. After all, didn't Martini make his bar off of a loan from George Bailey? There's a pharmacist in town who I'm certain could sell any number of pleasure enhancing drugs to the people in town.

The difference is that in Pottersvillle, there is no choice. Potter has decided that the town will be a sopping den of liquer and iniquity. In Bedford Falls, the people *could* have made the town whatever they wanted, and George Bailey would have supported them just the same. They could have gone ahead and turned it into another version of Vegas had they chosen, and Potter wouldn't have been able to profit a dime off of it with George Bailey there.

That is the issue with Pottersville. It isn't that Bedford Falls is a dull, boring place. It's that the people have the choice in their own destiny, and they choose a simple, peaceful life. In Pottersville, their lives become nothing but a living hell because the only choice is serving Potter, becoming another cog in his machine to fill his pockets even further off of their sweat and misery.

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