A TALE OF TWO WILLARDS

20 June, 2012

Back in 1971, before Willard “Mitt” Romney was in the spotlight, another Willard had captured the attention of America… Willard Stiles, the central character in the movie, Willard (not to be confused with the 2003 remake); the movie whose sequel gave us the Michael Jackson hit, Ben… a love song to a rat.

Willard, as portrayed by Bruce Davison, was a good-looking, preppy, socially awkward young man, closely tied to his family (well, closely tied to his mother, who was all the family he had left, with whom he lived in the decaying family mansion).  Sort-of brings to mind a real-life preppy, good-looking, socially awkward Willard with close family ties.  (Substitute the GOP for the decaying family mansion.)

Movie-Willard is charged with getting rid of the rats that have made their home on the family property and are helping to destroy its value.  (Think right-wing extremists and super PACs.)  Movie-Willard starts off with a plan to exterminate the vermin. (Think, Willard-Mitt’s time as governor of Massachusetts.)  But realizing he wants more than his isolated, socially awkward, loner life, Movie-Willard decides not only to spare the rats, but to befriend them, in the belief that not only will he finally have some pals who genuinely like him, but that he’ll be able to use his new friends for his own purposes.  (Think… you get it.)

Movie-Willard gets back at the people he believes are in his way or have wronged him by unleashing the rats at their homes and offices.  When his boss refuses to agree to his demands for a raise, Movie-Willard gets his revenge by sending his rats to the boss’s house during a party.  As the rats race for the food and destroy the party, Movie-Willard watches from a hiding spot in the bushes and laugh. (Think Willard-Mitt’s super PACs vs Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum when they refused to drop out of the primary).

But in the end it becomes clear that poor, self-absorbed, self-deluded Willard isn’t in charge at all.  The rats are calling the shots.  And by the time Willard finally realizes it and tries to destroy them, it’s too late.  The final scene has Willard locked in his bedroom as hordes of angry rats storm the stairs, chew down the door and proceed to gnaw Willard to death.

Maybe some loved one should arrange a screening for Willard-Mitt.

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