Will Smith's latest movie, The Pursuit of Happyness , stands as an extended argument underscoring the truth of conservative values . This may sound like an improbable anomaly given the traditional political, ethical, and social allegiances of Hollywood, but the power of the story lies in its basis in fact, and this in turn prevents it from being appropriated as a tool for liberal political ideology.
The narrative is inspired by the true life experiences of Christopher Gardner , a struggling and homeless single father turned successful stockbroker and CEO. The story begins in 1981, as the nation was beginning to emerge from the dark economic period inaugurated under the administration of President Jimmy Carter. Early on the protagonist is watching a television address by Ronald Reagan , outlining the woeful fiscal climate of the country, with record deficits and unemployment. The national unemployment rate for the first few years of the 1980s hovered between 7.1 and 9.7 percent. By 1989 the rate would be at a decade low of 5.3 percent.
In real life, Christopher Gardner speaks of his “spiritual genetics,” a legacy of religious affection inculcated in him by his mother. Religious elements in the film are understated but nevertheless present. One of the film's great moments of emotional catharsis occurs in the context of a gospel worship service.
On another occasion, Christopher's son, played by Will Smith's own son Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, tells a joke:
There was a man who was drowning, and a boat came, and the man on the boat said “Do you need help?” and the man said “God will save me”. Then another boat came and he tried to help him, but he said “God will save me”, then he drowned and went to Heaven. Then the man told God, “God, why didn't you save me?” and God said “I sent you two boats, you dummy!”
The point of the joke and its place in the film is that God normally works his providential will through natural means.
An instance of this...