A Face in the Crowd
John Butch Preston
y name is Ned. I recently saw a movie titled A Face in the Crowd staring Andy Griffith. In this film he plays a deeply sinister character, a far cry from his role as the loveable sheriff of Mayberry.
As the movie opens, he is sitting in jail for drunk and disorderly conduct, with a beat-up guitar and tattered suitcase at his side, for he is an itinerate bum—but with a personality as big as life. He is full of folksy sayings and lives by his own rules, which he stubbornly adheres to.
While incarcerated he is accidentally discovered by a local television reporter who is so impressed with his antics that she decides to feature him on her morning show. His name is Charles Rhodes but she introduces him as Lonesome Rhodes to enhance his country boy image. Once in front of the camera he speaks as though he knows everyone personally, telling wives to make their husbands wash the dishes for a change, and other such homey advice that soon wins people over.
From there he begins to rise through the medium of television until he becomes a super star and has the country in the palm of his hand. He is revered as though he is the new messiah. With such power he can never get enough attention, money and fame, never enough becomes his secret slogan.
While watching this movie, one soon gets the impression that it speaks directly about one who is known and loved in politics today. A bit of dialogue from the film, in which he brags to someone about the loyalty of his many fans, reveals his true nature: “They think like I do. Only they’re even more stupid than I am. So I gotta think for ‘em.” I can think of only one prominent national figure capable of making such an utterance. And we all know who he is, even his so-called stupid fans should know as well by now.
With absolute power he eventually becomes so corrupt that the woman who discovered him finally finds a way of exposing him for whom he really is, causing his downfall, and subsequent slide into paranoia.
The movie is a little over simplified and cynical, but it presents a truth of our times. As he moves around from one golf course to another, ignoring the constitution and making up his own rules, we’re being governed by an itinerate bum. Find this movie on your television or computer and see for yourself. And remember these great words of wisdom — ye shall know them by their fruits.