Butt News Movie Club #14: Butt Newsies
Soak the Billionaire Class for Crutchy!
[Did you know that I turned 40 last month and when you turn 40 it’s your birthday all year? IF YOU WANT TO GET ME SOMETHING FOR MY BIRTHDAY, MY ONLY BIRTHDAY WISH IS THAT YOU SUBSCRIBE TO BUTT NEWS USING MONEY! Especially if you are rich and/or a 19th-century newspaper magnate! Redistribute that wealth!
And if you have suggestions for future movies, put them in the comments HERE!
Also, need a last-minute gift for someone or a pep talk just for yourself? Well, I’m on CAMEO! Which means that for a low, low price you can hire me to tell your best friend happy birthday, or tell your landlord that you cut a large circular hole in the hardwood floor trying to install a wood stove! Hire me! Sometimes I am bad at getting all my Cameos done, but just resubmit if it expires and I promise I will get to it!]
In 1899 the streets of New York City echoed with the voices of Newsies, which were little boys with jobs who sang, danced, lied, sold papes, soaked ‘em for Crutchy, and essentially invented clickbait, laying the groundwork for today’s profit-driven truth-free media hell. Also, these kids were ripped!! (Newspapers used to be made of lead [and cocaine!].)
When first we meet the Newsies, they’re all asleep together (Snoozies) in a big boarding house, because their parents kicked them out for being addicted to sleeping (and cocaine!). One Newsie is sucking his thumb, two are scissoring(?) and maybe doing some foot stuff(?), and one is smoking a cigar, until an old man comes in and slaps them each in the face. Back when America was Great!
Then I swear Christian Bale, our hero, lifelong son of the Big Apple Jack “Cowboy” Kelly, absolutely SCREAMS his first line in the movie in a hard British accent: “Yohhh maaaaaahd!” Do American children even use the word “mad” to mean “crazy”? Wouldn’t they say, like, “two wooden nickels short of a hot dog”?
All the kids in this movie sound like me when they opened Big Mario’s Pizza around the corner from my work. EYYYYY YOUS GUYS KNOWS WHERES I CAN GETS SOME REEYUL BWROOKLYN PEEEZUHHHHH?!?!?!?!?!? I said that 50 times a day every day for two years! Fuhgeddabout being around me in 2009!
While Christian Bale, a child1, gives himself a bat-out-of-hell straight-razor shave with nihilistic disregard for his jugular, the other Newsies get ready for the day (love to take a communal bath with my coworkers!) and sing a song about New York City that’s so long it’s still going on three scenes later. “We’s as free as fishes/sure beats washing dishes!” R U positive??? Because it seems like you are malnourished eight-year-olds who toil in indentured servitude to a child prison????
Some nuns show up to give the Newsies “free” breakfast. The other night I took myself out to a solo dinner because I’m an Only Child Trying to Unlearn Codependency and I was sitting at the bar watching basketball when the middle-aged white man next to me started explaining unprompted about how the social safety net breeds laziness and withholding food and housing is good “leverage” to get people off drugs and alcohol. He was literally drinking a martini!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Todd “Not a Republican” Whiteman swears he believes in robust social services but does not trust the government to administer them, so his suggestion is that “the community” (i.e. billionaires and churches funded by billionaires) should do it. I couldn’t get him to admit it, but basically what he’s envisioning is these condescending nuns handing out bread ONLY to the most obedient child slaves who agree to worship Jesus Christ and letting all the bad kids fuck off and die. Great system, Todd! (The bar staff bought me a drink after he left! I am the people’s hero!)
I’m gonna say that Christian Bale’s dancing is not incredible.
A bully shows up to terrorize one of the Newsies. I forgot to write down which one it was, but safe bet’s on Crutchy, which is what the writers chose to name the character who walks with a crutch. Christian Bale fights the bully so he can get back to dancing (no need for that, sir!). I appreciate the opportunity for Bale to demonstrate his solid-gold sense of street justice, but quick breakout session for the bullies: why would you bully a kid with 50 friends!?
The Newsies go to pick up the day’s papes from Mr. Pulitzer’s pape distributor, an anti-Semitic caricature named Mr. Weisel, whomst the kids insist on calling “Mr. Weasel,” which does not feel good to watch let me tell you!!!! Dying to know if this character/running joke (and Crutchy, for that matter!) made it into the hit Broadway musical!
Incredible behind-the-scenes Newsies fact: contrary to all your senses, Ralph Macchio is not in this. THREE wooden nickels short of a hot dog, I know!!
Two new kids show up to be Newsies and Christian Bale zeroes in on them immediately. Bale notices that the younger kid is extremely cute and pathetic—“cough cough, buy me last pape mister?”—and proposes “with this kid’s puss and my god-given talent we can sell 1000 papes a week.” The big brother agrees to sell his little brother to Christian Bale for 60/40 on the papes.
Now Christian Bale explains that they have to actually READ the newspaper so they know what to scream at people all day: “Witout Newsies nobody knows nuttin’!”
Who was Christian Bale’s dialect coach? Prison Mike?
To sell papes, the Newsies take a booooooooring headline like “Trash Fire Next to Immigration Building Terrifies Seagulls” and instead they scream, “ELLIS ISLAND IN FLAMES! THOUSANDS FLEE IN PANIC!” One hundred and seventeen years later, Donald Trump will become the president! (Not saying this is the Newsies’ fault—it’s just a natural side effect of turning information into a commodity, i.e. it’s the billionaires’ fault, AGAIN!!!)
Speaking of Donald Trump, over in his evil skyscraper Mr. Pulitzer is yelling, “We need to make more profits!!!” which is absolutely how all rich guys should be portrayed in all media until it’s safe to do otherwise. “There’s lots of money down there in those streets, gentlemen. I want to know how I can get more of it. BY TONIGHT.” That’s really the kind of thing that they say! They’re out there saying it right now! Don’t forget it! (I feel like this anti-capitalist framing was so common in kids’ media when I was growing up—I definitely knew not to cross a picket line before I knew, like, what a fork was. Did that go away? Is it because they privatized Sesame Street? What happened!?!?)
Uh oh, next up, Kevin Tighe, the warden of Kidz Prison, is here to try and catch some Newsies. You always know somebody’s fucked in a movie when Kevin Tighe shows up! He and his henchmen, the 2022 Chicago Bulls, chase Christian Bale all about, and I’m sorry, but there’s no way that Kevin Tighe is as fast as those little children. (Zach LaVine, MAYBE, but not Kev!) But your vibe is extremely bad as usual, Mr. Tighe, so good job acting!
Bale tells the new kids, David and Les, that he’s on the run from the child-catchers because “I was starving so I stole some food.” David is like, “yeah, food,” all sarcastic, so fuck him! (Bruh, YOU barely have food! And you have parents!)
They hide from Tighe backstage at an erotic Vaudeville joint and meet Ann-Margret, who has weird sexual tension with Christian Bale, STILL A SMALL BOY, and they watch her sing the classic song, “My lovey dovey baby, I boo hoo hoo for you, I used to be your tootsie wootsie, then you said toodly-doo.” Dave asks Bale how he knows this chick and Bale explains that she’s a friend of his faddah’s. There is absolutely no reason for this scene to exist.
Jack says that as soon as his parents find the “right ranch” they’re going to send for him and bring him out to Santa Fe. Hmm. Seems true!
Dave brings Christian Bale back to his parents’ house to have dinner and divvy up their pape money. Bale meets Dave’s sister Sarah—a character with no discernible details or qualities or spark of life but I guess technically a human woman—and it’s boioioioioioioioing for him! Dave and Les’s dad cannot believe how much money his shitty kids made Newsie-ing. He’s only letting them do child labor because he got injured at the factory and didn’t have a UNION TO PROTECT HIM (!!!!!!!), but as soon as he gets his job back the kids are off the streets and back 2 skool. Bale’s like wow, MUST BE NICE to have someone in your life who thinks kids shouldn’t have jobs. All I have are my secret dead mom and evil dad in prison for crime—UUUUHH I MEAN MY REALLY ALIVE AND EXTREMELY NON-PRISON VERY GOOD NON-FAKE PARENTS CURRENTLY RANCH-HUNTING IN SANTA FE.
Then Les distracts everyone from Bale’s non-family-having ass by belting Ann-Margret’s porno song in his sleep: “coochie coo with me…” The parents are like hwuh?????????????? Did an erotic Swede sexualize our son? We only signed him up to do pape-grifting, not coochie-coo! And David and Bale are like big shrug! All laugh!
Dave invites Christian Bale to have a slumber party but he says nah, he’s got his own place (the garbage). He sings a sad sad song about how it’s way cooler not to have a family, actually: “So that’s what they call a family/muddah doddah faddah son/guess dat everyting you hoyd about is twoo.” Then he does a very long bad dance. If a Black person ever did anything this bad they would never get hired again!
Did you know that even as a child Christian Bale was into extreme method acting techniques, like how Marlon Brando put cotton balls in his mouth in the Godfather? Like for instance during this dance sequence Christian Bale put bees in his pants.
Then he steals a horse? And just rides it around for a while and then lets it go? That horse is worth a lot of money, man! You already stole it—why don’t you sell one horse instead of 4,000 papes??
Back to Pulitzer, who is still in his office screaming the exact same shit at his minions: “I know we need to make more money. That’s why we’re here, to find out how to make more money!” A+ DIALOGUE APPROVED BY ME. [GAVEL.]
Pulitzer puts on his thinking hat and hits on an incredible idea, which is that the billionaire class could generate ever more obscene levels of wealth by squeezing pennies out of the lowest among us—i.e. charge the Newsies more for their wholesale papes. R! E! L! E! V! A! N! T!
One of the minions points out that if they do this, all the Newsies will go work for William Randolph Hearst instead, but Pulitzer counters that they’ll just get Hearst to raise his prices too. LISTEN TO NEWSIES! ALL THE BILLIONAIRES ARE IN CAHOOTS! THEY ARE YOUR ONLY ENEMY!
Minion: “It’s gonna be awfully rough on those children.”
Pulitzer: “Nonsense! It’ll be good for them. Incentive.”
SOUND FAMILIAR, TODD????????????????????????????????????
The Newsies are not happy. Christian Bale drops his extremely good catchphrase—“lemme tink about it!”—and then, inspired by the striking trolley workers who are currently busting heads and starting conflagrations all over Noo Yawk, suggests the Newsies go on strike too. “We can’t strike! We don’t have a union!” “But if we go on strike then we ARE a union!” “No, we’re just a bunch of angry kids with no money.” “Any Newsie that don’t join with us then we bust their heads like those trolley workers!” “IF WE DON’T SELL PAPES THEN NOBODY SELLS PAPES.”
That’s the spirit! If you don’t have nostalgia for Newsies, I can’t say that this movie is, like, GOOD, from a movie standpoint (incidentally I DO have nostalgia for it, and upon rewatching I was still like…this…is the movie???). But as propaganda to indoctrinate your children into the labor movement?? A 100/100 INDISPENSIBLE MUST-WATCH. Start in the womb! Pop the Beats by Dre over that tum-tum! Let the little children watch no other films but Newsies! I am pretty sure Christian Bale has not been cancelled for anything yet! Solidarity forever! Have a unionized stonemason chisel it ‘pon my tombstone: Pulitzer and Hearst have to respect the rights of the workin’ boys of Noo Yawk!!!!!!!!
Then all the boys start singing and Dave is just looking around like how do you all know this song?? You ALL know a song about a Newsie strike!?
Gotta love how Newsies was made in the 90s but now all of America pretends like we couldn’t possibly know any of this stuff. Dang, we just don’t know how to stop these billionaires!! You guys! We do know! And we gotta! We’re clearly back in a Newsies-level situation! Except the oppressed workers don’t even have the dormitories and the free nun-muffins anymore!!!!!
Jack and Dave go to take their demands to Pulitzer (Dave is Jack’s collective bargaining Cyrano) and Pulitzer throws them out. But Bill Pullman, a journalist with the New York Sun, is like sniff sniff and decides to write about the Newsie strike: “Does it scare you? You’re going up against the most powerful man in New York City!”
That’s how I felt when I made fun of Salt Bae’s restaurant.
They walk to Brooklyn to talk to Spot, the head of the Brooklyn Newsies, who is eight. Spot says he’s been hearing some things about the strike from some “liddle boyiyeeuhds,” but he’s not convinced. Dave flatters Spot by telling him he is the most famous and respected Newsie in all of New York so they really need him to sign on to the strike. Spot says that they have to prove that the Manhattan Newsies have what it takes to see the strike through. Dave sings an inspirational song—“nothing can break us/no one can make us give our rights away/arise and seize the day” (YEEEEEEEEES!!!!!!!!)—and they go back to Manhattan to see if they can pound any scabs at the pape yard.
Lucky them, there is a pape scab to pound! They really beat the shit out of this kid. And then they throw rotten tomatoes at Mr. Weisel and his terrible boys! And they mess up all the papes! Power to the people!
Was this movie a flop because the CAPITALISTS SUPPRESSED IT?? It is truly just a manual for teaching children how to be good socialists and terrible dancers!
Then the cops come and all the kids run away except for Crutchy, who gets captured and has to go to Kidz Priz where they send orphans who get arrested for needing food—a.k.a. Todd’s utopia.
Christian Bale and Dave go to rescue Crutchy from prison. Dave ties Bale to a rope and dangles him down in front of Crutchy’s window, and no offense but there’s no way Dave is strong enough to do that. Have you ever tried getting a 70-pound dog to roll over?
They offer to break Crutchy out but he says he’d rather stay because he got all fucked up by the cops and he needs to lie down.
Then the Newsies do another dance that, yet again, I cannot say is good.
Mr. Weisel cuts a deal with Pulitzer to crush, kill, and destroy the Newsies. The next day when all the scabs show up to get papes, the Newsies chase them into the pape yard to beat them, as is their routine. But then, Mr. Weisel’s goons shut the gates, trapping the Newsies! And “the Cribs,” a large violent armed adult gang, comes out to beat the Newsies, who continue to be small children! BUT THEN! “Never fear, Brooklyn is here!” Spot and the Brooklyn Newsies show up and turn the tide of battle!
The Manhattan Newsies are reinvigorated! The Brooklyn Newsies ping adult after adult in the eyeball with their slingshots! The Newsie who is neither Ralph Macchio NOR Fabrizio from Titanic (?!?!?) kicks a guy in the nuts and makes him go “HOOOOOOOOOO!”
The Newsies manage to open the gates and all the Newsies in town push the Cribs back into the building! Collective action works! Even when the system intimidates you!
Bill Pullman writes an article about the strike—“THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE, NEWSIES STOP THE WORLD!”—and the Newsies are pumped. “If you get in the papes you’re famous and when you’re famous you get everything you want and that’s what’s so great about New York!” Definitely true!
Then all the Newsies sing a song about how Bill Pullman is the “King of New York,” and he’s like “yeah I cosign this,” but WTF! You guys should be kings of New York! You’re the ones who did the strike! Also, how about no kings in our labor movement?
Christian Bale says they should have a Newsie rally to become an even bigger story.
Meanwhile, Crutchy goes to clear Kevin Tighe’s supper plates and happens to see Christian Bale on the cover of the newspaper and is like, “Hey, that’s Christian Bale!” and Kevin Tighe is like YOU KNOW CHRISTIAN BALE!? WHERE DOES HE LIVE?????? And, like, Crutchy, I know you’re going through it right now, but try not to blurt in front of the cops!
Kevin Tighe goes to the dormitory and asks for Christian Bale, but the old man who slaps each boy in the face every morning gets Christian Bale’s back and tells Kevin Tighe to gtfo. This is what allyship looks like.
Jack sneaks out under Kevin Tighe’s nose and goes to sleep on the fire escape outside Dave’s sister’s window like a creep. She wakes up and sees him there and tells him to “go up on the roof”…”or as I like to call it… the fuck roof.” (It’s implied!)
They go up there and she’s like “are you hungry” and he says “yeah” and she says “good, ‘cause I made you breakfast.” WHEN?!?!?! YOU WERE ASLEEP 45 SECONDS AGO. Jack says that he can’t wait for the strike to end so he can go to Santa Fe and hang out with his mom and dad. He says he’s got nothin’ to stay in New York for anyway and her eyes are like UM, WHAT ABOUT THIS P-HOLE!!!!!?!??!?
They really have not developed this romance at all, but sure!
Tighe tattles to Pulitzer that his strike is being led by an escaped criminal named Jack “Cowboy” Kelly a.k.a. Christian Bale a.k.a. Francis Sullivan, who has NO PARENTS and NO RANCH IN SANTA FE WHATSOEVER.
The mayor agrees to fuck up the strike and arrest Christian Bale because Mr. Pulitzer invites him to his poker night with all of the newspaper big boys. YES! Very good to teach kids that everybody in town, including the cops and the mayor, just works for the richest guy! This movie is not good but it IS great!!!! Indoctrinate the children!!!!!!!!!! I feel like this paragraph sounds sarcastic but it isn’t!
The Newsies have their rally at the Meadowlark’s Sex Theater and it goes great. The Newsies of all five boroughs shake hands and agree that they’re going to beat the shit out of scabs. Everything seems cool. But then the 2022 Chicago Bulls show up and arrest all the kids, including Christian Bale. This is terrible.
Bill Pullman pays most of the kids’ fines and gets them out of jail (HOT), but Christian Bale is sentenced to 21 years of hanging out with Kevin Tighe so he can learn lessons. Adding insult to injury, NONE of the newspapers even wrote about the rally because all of the owners are conspiring to stop the Newsies. Bill Pullman’s paper refused to run his story and reassigned him to the war desk. There’s nothing more Bill Pullman can do. Bill Pullman’s gotta look out for Bill Pullman. Guess this is goodbye.
Now it’s time for Dave’s long, dark night of the soul! Everything sucks! If you can’t even trust Bill Pullman, then who can you trust!? He crumples up Bill Pullman’s article about the rally and throws it at Les, who uses it to wrap his hot dog.
Mr. Pulitzer calls Christian Bale in for a secret meeting. He explains that he is very powerful because he tells people how to think. He says he will get Bale out of kid prison if Bale goes to work from him until the strike is over and then he’ll give him money and help him leave town to go to Santa Fe and live with his imaginary parents. Bale is defiant and he says, “I must have you scared pretty bad, old man,” but then Pulitzer says that if Bale doesn’t take the deal then he’s going to send DAVE to kid prison too!!!!
As Bale is leaving Pulitzer’s house, the Newsies create a distraction to help him escape. The cops try to give chase but the Newsies took the pins out of their buggy so the horse falls off! Lol.
Dave is like, hey! Congrats! We rescued you! But Christian Bale, knowing of Pulitzer’s evil plan, has to Harry and the Hendersons Dave to save him from jail. And then he goes back to jail all alone. He has finally broken beneath the wheels of capitalism.
The next day they make Christian Bale break the picket line and the Newsies FLIP THE FUCK OUT. Which, like, I get, but he is clearly WEEPING, you guys! How can you not tell he’s being forced to do this by goons?
Back at Dave’s house, Sarah finds Les’s old hot dog in a drawer. It’s wrapped in Bill Pullman’s article! She starts to get an idea! If only these kids had a mechanism for the mass distribution of information!!!
Christian Bale goes to scab in the morning and overhears Weisel’s hench-boys say they’re going to beat up Dave so that he can’t walk. The hench-boys find Sarah and Les on a walk, and they menace them. Dave shows up to protect his siblings, so the hench-boys beat Dave up with brass knuckles! But then Christian Bale drops his papes and runs over there before they can ruin Dave’s legs! I guess he doesn’t love money more than his friends’ legs after all!
Christian Bale is BACK with the Newsies and they go to see Bill Pullman.
Bill Pullman: “This city thrives on child labor. A lot of people make money that way. They’re terrified that the Newsies strike will spread.”
Christian Bale: “There’s not much chance of that as long as they’ve got all the power.”
Bill Pullman: “Sometimes all it takes is a voice.”
BELOVEDS, I’M CRYING.
They sneak into Weisel’s basement to use his printing press and sing a song about typesetting. This is definitely not even the best song about typesetting and I don’t know any other ones.
They print their own newspaper about collective action and distribute it to all the Newsies. Now they throw the newspaper everywhere! (Can all these kids read? All the poor people of New York? I hope so!) Secretly, Bill Pullman takes a copy of the paper straight to his friend, GOVERNOR TEDDY ROOSEVELT? Inventor of Toaster Strudel??
Now it’s time for the big rally, but nobody is showing up. There’s only one thing that can help: one more bad song!
But then… oh wow! IT’S THE ENTIRE WORKING CLASS! MARCHING IN SOLIDARITY! “GIRLS WANT RIGHTS TOO!” “WE AYNT SLAVS!” (We can work on the signs later, comrades, but conceptually kudos!)
Bale and Dave go to see Mr. Pulitzer one last time and Bale says, “Extry extry, Joe, read all about it” in a sarcastic voice, which is all I need from my entertainment. Christian Bale tells Pulitzer that he used PULITZER’S OWN PRINTING PRESS to print the child labor newspaper. Then he absolutely homicides this man: “Putting them in jail is not gonna stop them. That’s the power of the press, Joe. Thanks for teaching me about it.” More like Pwnlitzer!
At last, Bale and Dave come out and tell the Newsies that they won! Kevin Tighe tries to arrest Bale one last time but Bill Pullman is like, “No! It’s over!” and then they let all the kids out of the prison wagon and put Kevin Tighe in there instead! Now HE has to go to child prison! (Is that how the legal system works? Okay!)
Crutchy shows up and says that Teddy Roosevelt came and liberated the prison himself (sure). Bale asks Teddy Roosevelt if he can give him a ride to the train yard so he can go to Santa Fe and Teddy Roosevelt is like sure (sure). Sarah and Dave and Les watch Bale ride away all boo hoo hoo, and he doesn’t even say goodbye! Solidarity forNEVER!
But then Bale comes BACK in Teddy Roosevelt’s buggy! “Thanks for the advice, governor. Like you said, I still got things to do.” Then Teddy Roosevelt gives Spot a ride back to Brooklyn in his buggy. ISN’T TEDDY ROOSEVELT BUSY????
And then Bale and Sarah kiss or whatever, who cares. They only added that storyline because in the 90s you couldn’t tell the real truth, which is that CHRISTIAN BALE AND DAVE ARE OBVIOUSLY IN LOVE. THIS IS AN EROTICALLY CHARGED RELATIONSHIP AND YOU CANNOT TELL ME OTHERWISE.
And now… the Newsies just have to go back to work? That’s your reward, congrats. Overthrow capitalism.
If you want to experience a truly destabilizing firehose of horniness, mention Newsies to any 40-year-old woman who first watched it when she was 10. May Christian Bale awaken a new generation to both socialism and our nads just as he awakened this one! Also he is 18 in this movie so while it may be arguably creepy to have leftover sex-feelings for him as an adult, it is not technically crime!