03-Apr-2009

Talking Movies (Not Really)

It may seem tame considering what has come since, but Henry Levin's 1960 teen romantic comedy Where the Boys Are was fairly revolutionary for its time.

... the movie tells the tale of two college co-eds, Merritt (Dolores Hart) and Melanie (Yvette Mimieux) on spring break in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Merritt hesitates on taking the penultimate step in the game of what she calls "backseat bingo" in order to win the heart of a special beau; Melanie fairly explicitly affirms (for the time, anyway) that she intends to show no such restraint.

Of course, it ends very badly for Melanie. Lured to a party at aroadside motel where she believes that her new boyfriend will be present along with other desirable young Ivy League "Yalies", she is next seen wandering aimlessly in the middle of a busy highway, hair and clothes disheveled - as the then movie morals code would not allow the word that described her obvious violation to be explicitly uttered, the audience was left to draw the obvious inference as to the terrible price she paid for her licentiousness.

She gets hit by a car; in the hospital, she confesses the worst part of her sin to Merritt. "They weren't even Yalies!" she sobs.
But it is not really about the movie.
Thirty eight years later, in 1998, US Commodity Futures Trading Commission chairwoman Brooksley Born, in seeking to uphold the integrity of the financial system, was similarly accosted. However, in contrast to poor Melanie, the gang that attacked her possessed just about the highest imaginable academic pedigrees. They were the then deputy secretary of the Treasury (and now the chair of President Barack Obama's National Economic Council) Laurence Summers (BA Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Phd Harvard); Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan (BA, MA Columbia, Phd New York University); and the leader of the gang, Treasury secretary Robert Rubin (BA Harvard, LLB Yale - yes! he was even a Yalie). After the attack on chairwoman Born, the gang carelessly hopped into their souped-up hot rod and proceeded to further make the preparations for their rich-kid, thrill-kill firebombing of the world financial system we see occurring today.

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