Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

October 19, 2012

'Won't back down' outrages unions

Union protesters demonstrated outside the premiere of the new pro-education reform movie "Won't Back Down."

As well they should have. Just as tobacco executives should have protested at the opening of "The Insider." And corporate polluters should have chanted taunts outside every theater showing "Erin Brockovich." And CEOs of nuclear-power companies should have formed a human chain to block the red carpet at the premiere of "The China Syndrome."

"'Won't Back Down,' get out of town," and "Move on over, corporate takeover," the protesters at the "Won't Back Down" premiere intoned. If their slogans were juvenile and the instincts thuggish, the calculation of their self-interest was exactly right - unions shouldn't want anyone to see this film.

In an outraged public letter, the head of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, complained that the movie traffics in "the most blatant stereotypes and caricatures I have ever seen."

Really? Weingarten must never have seen a World War II movie, or a film featuring a hooker with a heart of gold, or pretty much any romantic comedy.

What makes "Won't Back Down" so objectionable to her isn't that its characters are stereotypes but that they are revelations. Time-serving teachers beholden to a union obsessed with its prerogatives and power don't often show up on the big screen, or we'd hear about more union pickets of movie openings.

"Won't Back Down" is about a plucky working-class mother, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, whose dyslexic daughter is "getting crushed," as she puts it, at the awful local elementary school. She enlists a teacher at the school, played by Viola Davis, to work with her to trigger a parent-teacher takeover of the failing school. A great contest between the reforming duo and the powers that be ensues, and - I'm probably not spoiling it for anyone if I reveal this - the duo prevails.

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