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Wednesday, September 09, 2015
Celebrating Together at "Jimmy's Hall."
Having just walked a sweltering mile and a half to the Loft
Cinema, I was keenly aware of the riders’ plight due to the long Tucson bus strike. I
thought about those who had lost their jobs because they couldn’t get to work
on time and the angry young woman I met waiting an hour at the bus stop (before
giving up and walking.) She was mad at
the drivers for striking when they made “a hell of a lot more” than she made. “They
should all be fired!” she raged. This woman was working two full-time jobs to
support herself and her child. I pointed
out how the media was making out poor single mothers as lazy. “I work damn
hard,” she spat back. I challenged her,
“Don’t you think you deserve enough money to live on with one job? If workers don’t demand it, their bosses won’t
pay a living wage. The only reason there are safe working conditions in this
country is because the workers organized and demanded it.”
My fiance and I settled into our seats at the
air-conditioned theater ready to be drawn into the lush emerald isle and the
spirited Irish and jazz dances in “Jimmy’s Hall.” We were taken back to
depression era Ireland when it was recovering from the vicious civil war
between those who supported England’s occupation and those who fought for
independence. Jimmy’s Hall was essentially a community center where people
gathered to take cultural classes, attend dances, and celebrate life. But it was seen as a danger for the
common people to gather together to exchange ideas – ideas that might lead to
revolt. So the hall had been shut down and Jimmy exiled to America.
Ten years later, Jimmy is greeted on his return by a
group of young-adults intent on re-opening the hall for a safe place to dance.
The small community rebuilds the tin hall into a joyous gathering place. But
the church sees the hall as a challenge to the powers that be – the wealthy
land owners who had profited from the war – and pressures them to close it
down. When a family is thrown out of their ancestral home by the greedy land
owner, the persecuted group stands with the family.
It’s not hard to see
the parallel between the greedy landowners and the unfettered greed of
corporate America and international banking conglomerates. In the film, the
church uses fear to control the people. Today it is the corporate-owned media that
portrays hard working single mothers - like my fellow passenger - as lazy while
influencing them to vote against their own best interests.
For me the Loft feels like Jimmy’s Hall: a joyful community
gathering place where learning and lively discussions are encouraged. Independent films are still the voice of the people. It occurs to me that the single
mother at the bus stop wouldn’t have the time or money to enjoy this film at the
Loft. (Though she could send her kids to the Loft's free children’s screenings…) But
movies like “Jimmy’s Hall” create understanding that we are all a part of this
community and inspires us to stand together.