Populism: Dominant Political and Social Ideology in America

             Populism is the dominant political and social ideology in America. It is, basically, the philosophy of the "average Joe.” The Frank Capra classic, Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, is rife with the tenants of populism. Throughout the movie, the viewer sees scenes that express the populist view, such as when Mr. Deeds punches the poets, when he gives his money away, and many more. .

             Populism has many tenants that apply directly to a person's character, such as self-reliant, honest, trusting, and hardworking to name a few. These qualities are considered to be in good character, according to populism. Mr. Deeds is the epitome of these characteristics. It can be seen that he is self-reliant in the scene where the lawyers come to tell him that he is a millionaire. At this time, he acts disinterested and tells them that he does not need the money. Throughout almost every scene in the movie, he shows his honesty and ability to be trusted by telling exactly what is on his mind and by trusting naively trusting people. Perhaps the most important character trait of populism is that of being hardworking. Mr. Deeds best illustrates this trait when he says, "Well, I don't deserve the money. I didn't earn it.” These examples and characteristics of populist traits only apply for men. .

             The traits that apply to women are almost exactly the opposite from what pertains to men. Where men are self-reliant, honest, trusting, and hardworking, women are supposed to be in distress, dimwitted, not worthy of respect, and need to be shielded from violence. Ms. Dawson/Bennett is the main female character in the film. In her first encounter with Mr. Deed's, she faints in front of Mr. Deeds to attract his attention. Not only does she fulfill his desire for a woman in distress, she also reinforces the populist view, all within this scene. .

             The two sisters who testify at Mr. Deeds' sanity hearing provide the movies best support for the fact that woman are supposed to be dimwitted.

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