The Philadelphia Story and our changing presumptions of innocence.

“I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” – Bob Dylan, 1964

On December 26, 78 years ago, during the golden era of The Greatest Generation, a work of art called The Philadelphia Story was released. It told the story of a spirited, independent woman’s awakening to love. In this Katharine Hepburn vehicle, monogamous heterosexuality was seen to meet human need. The film poked fun at marriage and shows its weaknesses but does not reject the institution.

How times have changed in the western world. Marriage is not the place it was.

Heterosexuality as the norm can no longer be assumed or championed.

The story debunked the idea that the Hepburn character Tracy Lord should be treated as a goddess. Her real need was not to be worshiped but to be loved.

Hepburn’s character was shown due to marry an up and coming politician but the night before the wedding she gets very drunk with a writer she admires who is there to report the wedding. They shared two kisses and a late night swim but to some others including her fiancé it appeared like an affair.

When Hepburn said, “I was guilty straight off until I was proven innocent.” Cary Grant, playing her first husband, who still loves her, commented, “Downright un-American if you ask me.”

In the modern world of suffocating political correctness far too many men are now “guilty straight off”.

On the October 2nd, 2018, President Trump described this modern phenomenon by saying: “It’s a very scary situation when you are guilty until proven innocent. My whole life I have heard you are innocent until proven guilty. But now you are guilty until proven innocent. That is a very, very difficult standard.”

As an Aussie fan of America’s great capacity for self-criticism, the anti-male modern climate of fear sounds downright un-American to me.

Geoff Fox, East Java, Christmas Day, 2018