Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Everyone In America Should Watch Howards End Right About Now
This is the scene (actually, the passage of the book) that has been running through my mind since the Sarah/Bristol Palin story broke.
(If you don't want to watch the four minutes: Anthony Hopkins' character, early in his life, fathered a child with his [unmarried] mistress. Now Emma Thompson's character accuses him of being a hypocrite because he is condemning Helena Bonham Carter's character for being unmarried and pregnant.)
That's half of it.
But there's another half, too. The "I'm a f**king redneck" half. The sort of squalid glee with which the "see, Bristol couldn't have been pregnant... because she already was pregnant!" announcement was made.
In the Howards End world, characters hinge on honesty and intelligence (and connection -- but I'll leave Forster's epigraph for another discussion). Jacky Bast is not condemned because of her status as Henry Wilcox's mistress; she is condemned for her lack of intelligence and her choice to remain ignorant (and flaunt it, like our "f**king redneck" friend). Likewise: the scene in the clip above isn't about pregnancy or marriage, not really; it's about honesty.
And there seems to be a great lack of honesty -- and intelligence -- in this situation.