Who speaks for Uncle Billy?

It bothers me that Mr. Potter got away with it. He skates and (after the credits roll) everyone else falls through the ice. It’s a wonderful life, for Mr. Potter.

A cynical take on a beloved classic? Perhaps. Looking through a contemporary lens reveals a few cracks in this veneer of fellowship and goodwill.

Mr. Potter revels in his role as a slumlord. George sees the advantages of upward mobility. And Mr. Martini’s caught in the middle. His credit worthiness is shaky. Without a subprime mortgage, he will never get out of Pottersville. Affordable housing or predatory lending? For Mr. Martini, it’s a pretty good life.

Despite a history of making bad choices in men, Violet Bick gets it right in the end when she comes to the aid of George Bailey. But really, what are her future prospects in Bedford Falls? Will Mary really tolerate her as a fixture in the community? For Violet, it’s an adequate life.

Uncle Billy is an HR department nightmare. An over 50 white guy who’s unemployable outside the family business. More like a beloved company mascot. He has no business being entrusted with an $8,000 bank deposit ($100,000 in current dollars). But that’s on George. Billy gets thrown under the bus and when the euphoria dies down he lives out a life of small town ignominy. It’s an undeserved life, for Uncle Billy.

Who speaks for Uncle Billy? Who’s going to make it right? George needed an angel. Uncle Billy needs a special prosecutor.

Clarence, you earned your wings. Now put them to good use.


M. A. Duca is a resident of Twin Lakes narrowly focused on everyday life.