Want a Real Role Model? I’ll Show You a Role Model

Scrooge

Ixnay on George Bailey serving as your role model.

The guy you really want to emulate is … Ebenezer Scrooge. 

Now wait, hang on a minute and hear me out. I know that this nomination sounds crazy. But think about it: do you want to emulate a guy who’s broke, lives in a dilapidated house, drives a beat-up used car and is so totally stressed-out that he yells at his kids, trashes his house, has a fist fight in a bar, assaults a police officer, wrecks his car then runs from the scene, and ultimately attempts suicide? 

That is certainly not a guy you want to emulate. Yet, I just described George Bailey.

So consider, please the candidacy of Ebenezer Scrooge. If this idea sounds ridiculous, that’s merely because of the way the two characters were positioned by their authors, and later, by filmmakers. In the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, virtually the entire story is a flashback. Only a short segment in the beginning and another at the end occur in the present.

Thus, you spend almost your entire time in It’s a Wonderful Life discovering what a fabulous guy George Bailey is; how he sacrificed so that his brother could go to college, saving the Bailey Building & Loan after his father passes away, and helping members of the community in innumerous ways.  Only in the last few minutes does he have a mental breakdown, caused by decisions of his own making.

So, the film has you falling in love with this guy for an hour-and-a-half, and you gloss over the child abuse, house-trashing, fist-fight, cop-assault, car wreck and attempted suicide.  That gets glossed over so much that you don’t even pay attention to it – and if you do, you only feel sorry for the guy.

Now, consider A Christmas Carol.  Here the book and many film adaptations do the same thing: almost the entire story is a flashback.  But in this case, the flashback focuses on what a jerk the Scrooge was: rude, selfish and manipulative. You grow to hate the guy. No wonder scrooge is now a slur. 

We forget that, in the final minutes of the story, Scrooge has an epiphany.

I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the past, present and future. The spirits of all three shall strive within me. I shall not shut out the lessons that they teach.
He therefore becomes, as the storyteller explains in the final passages: 

Ebenezer Scrooge was better than his word. He became as good a friend, as good a master, as good a man, as the old city knew. And to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. It was said of Ebenezer Scrooge that he knew how to keep Christmas well.

The great philanthropist who changes people’s lives – who saves the life of poor Tiny Tim – is the man we should emulate.

Celebrate Ebenezer Scrooge, not George Bailey.