The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

A vote is a vote…

with 3 comments

So, what’s going to happen on this week’s episode?

It seems that after two weeks, the big question is still on what sort of person Nucky is and whether you can be half a gangster. The stress in last episode seems to have been precisely the sorts of issues I pushed in the last writeup: we see, in relation to the Commodore, that Nucky is not a particularly cruel man…but we see also in relation to Jimmy that he can be vengeful, as he takes the $3000 which means so much to Jimmy and shows how little it means–in the grand scheme of things–to him.

What was most interesting to me, however, was the exchange between Nucky and Schroeder. Her George Sand quote follows the theme that seems to be emerging on this show: Nucky takes himself to be doing good, and presumably, this helps justify his various nefarious dealings in his own mind, but as she aptly points out: charity often demeans those who receive it, and harden those who give it. The relationship between Schroeder and Nucky, however, seems vastly different than the one between Nucky and Van Alden, who is unwilling to enter into any sort of arrangement with Nucky. I find this interesting and am curious to see how these two poles play out in the upcoming episode. Thus far, Van Alden seems consumed by the job and entirely unable to compromise–this seems interesting since we all know how the Prohibition story ends (i.e. with repeal, and so with the collapse of that legal paradigm). It will be interesting to see the Van Alden character’s story arc, as well as its relation to Nucky, but also as well as the parallels between that arc and the arc that will inevitably take place between Schroeder and Nucky.

I am curious, of course, to see how Jimmy fares and, as everyone is, I am curious to see how Rothstein handles the slight against him.

Aside from these “micro” issues, I am curious to see how the broader “macro” issue about politics play out. The Commodore’s argument against Nucky’s claim that a “vote is a vote,” can either be seen as a deeply malicious act, akin to the program of the KKK (as it is read here), or it can be seen as a more complex argument about the state of American democracy: that a vote has never been a vote in this country…that not only are votes continually manipulated or even bought/sold, but that they are already always compromised by the particular, unfortunate American historical situation (namely one of slavery, anti-Semitism, bigotry, racism, misogyny, imperialism, and class struggle). If this is the case, then Boardwalk Empire seems to be presenting a powerful, albeit depressing critique of American politics and all without even a hint of a possible upshot.

Looking forward to tonight’s episode!



Written by Martin

October 3, 2010 at 8:43 pm

3 Responses

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  1. martin – i think a mid-week entry, despite the drawbacks you mentioned in your first post, would be good. maybe you’re unable to do so…or tapped out until the weekend. i think most of us have “time-shifted” our watching habits (thank you dvr and “on demand”) so a wednesday or thursday piece on Boardwalk wouldn’t be too late.


    October 5, 2010 at 1:29 pm

  2. Hey Martin,

    Pertaining to your conclusion, about Boardwalk’s critique of democracy, I think there is something to be said for all three episodes seem to have at least one scene where either a comedian or singer denigrates the intelligence of women. At the same time, Nucky’s ambivalent progressive stance on women’s issues of the day (suffrage and temperance) seem to remind us of politcians today who pay lip service to gender equality yet do not act on their convictions. I think the show is subverting the gender politics of the 1920s as a criticism for today’s world.

    Rod of Alexandria

    October 6, 2010 at 11:20 pm

  3. Josh – thanks for the comment…this week will stick to normal schedule, but I will ponder the possibility of switching.

    Also, Rod, I think you’re right about the gender politics bit.


    October 10, 2010 at 6:14 pm

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