Keep Complaining

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					                                    CultureWatching
                                          Keep
                                        Complaining
                                                    By Stefan Kanfer




C
             ONGRESSMAN           Emanuel       Being Earnest: “The good ended happi-
              Cleaver II (D.-Mo.) has in-       ly, and the bad unhappily. That is what
              troduced a bill in the House      fiction means.”)
              of Representatives that would         Once upon a Depression, the film
              make every Wednesday be-          Gold Diggers of 1933 featured the Gin-
fore Thanksgiving “Complaint Free               ger Rogers solo, “We’re in the Money”:
Wednesday.” According to Cleaver, “the
                                                   We never see a headline about bread-
average person complains approximate-
                                                    lines today.
ly 15 to 30 times per day,” and this “has
                                                   And when we see the landlord we can
been shown by research psychologists to
                                                    look that guy right in the eye
be detrimental to a person’s physical and
                                                   We’re in the money, come on my
emotional health, relationships, and to
                                                    honey,
limit their career success.” Apparently
                                                   Let’s lend it, spend it, send it rolling
it also affects his syntax.
                                                    along!
    But that aside, the Congressman is
only the most recent in a long, long line          Simultaneously, singers crooned a
of boosters—ranging from colonial snake         rhetorical question:
oil salesmen through Norman Vincent
                                                   In the winter, in the summer
Peale to the current group of self-help
                                                   Ain’t we got fun?
gurus—who believe that positive think-
                                                   Times are bum and getting bummer
ing is the exit ramp from trouble. Never                                                      radio there were Hit Parade numbers
                                                   Still we have fun
mind severe economic reversals, double-                                                       advising listeners that “The Best Things
digit unemployment, a sinking dollar,             And when faced with a fur-bearing           in Life Are Free.” There were forget-
and two wars that are draining our nation-      symbol of hard times, Walt Disney’s           your-troubles film comedies like Mae
al treasure and sapping our collective          Three Little Pigs fatuously chorused:         West’s I’m No Angel, in which every-
morale. To believers, the Eleventh Com-                                                       thing was white: the furs, the furni-
                                                   Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf,
mandment is Thou Shalt Not Bellyache.                                                         ture, the telephone—everything but the
                                                   The Big Bad Wolf, the Big Bad Wolf ?
    I take precisely the opposite view. It is                                                 maid. And there were such beguiling
not when we confront
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: According to Cleaver, "the average person complains approximately 1 5 to 30 times per day," and this "has been shown by research psychologists to be detrimental to a person's physical and emotional health, relationships, and to limit their career success." [...] that aside, the Congressman is only the most recent in a long, long line of boosters - ranging from colonial snake oil salesmen through Norman Vincent Peale to the current group of self-help gurus - who believe that positive thinking is the exit ramp from trouble. [...] if the average citizen had fumed about the quality of military intelligence, we might have skipped the Iraq War, or at least fought it for other reasons than the alleged stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction.
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