Annie Get Your Gun: another musical comedy to die (laughing) for! The over-exaggerated superficial love and competing business stories of this film and Broadway show are hilarious throughout and extremely entertaining. In fact, the childish tone of the song, “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better” shows the more superficial aspects of some competition, even in the adult world. In real life, we might not use those words, or react in the such dramatic ways to some of the show’s situations, but the basis for our behavior is there.
“[Annie:] Anything you can do I can do better./I can do anything better than you./ [Frank:] No, you can’t./ [Annie:] Yes, I can./ [Frank:] No, you can’t./ [Annie:] Yes, I can./ [Frank:] No, you can’t./ [Annie:] Yes, I can! Yes, I can!/ [Frank:] Anything you can be I can be greater./ Sooner or later I’m greater than you./ [Annie:] No, you’re not./ [Frank:] Yes, I am./ [Annie:] No, you’re not./ [Frank:] Yes, I am./ [Annie:] No, you’re not./ [Frank:] Yes, I am, yes I am!”
In college (particularly those of us in the Paul College), we’re taught how to market ourselves as “competitive,” as well as how to beat competition for products in the marketplace. However, we need to remember that an important part of that is remaining civil, or “sportsmanlike” as in the main arena of competition: sports. Just as each team’s players shake hands at the end of a game or match, so should people looking to get hired or to keep the best ratings in the market remain kind to each other. Not only will it lend us the air of generosity and kindness that is more likely to help us get hired, but it also is an extremely useful skill in cooperative settings, as most jobs involve these days. Particularly in the merging of two companies. Though there is some light-hearted banter in the song, the two in this musical comedy take their personal competition a little too far.
“[Frank:] I can shoot a partridge with a single cartridge./ [Annie:] I can get a sparrow with a bow and arrow./ [Frank:] I can live on bread and cheese./ [Annie:] And only on that?/ [Frank:] Yes./ [Annie:] So can a rat.”
Although I’ve chosen to highlight some of the more comedic lyrics to this song, the majority of the song involves literal competitions –mostly in vocal tone and usage– between the two main characters. They start out with friendly manners each round but end up in an immature temper-tantrum by the end of most verses.
This reminds me of certain political candidates throughout the years, which is why I very much appreciated the good sportsmanship and lack (of noticeable, anyway) mud-raking in the Obama-McCain election, even though I did not yet have the power to vote. This particular election season –not just with the presidential candidates– has involved some heavy finger-pointing tactics that make my heart heavy and my brain cringe. I think it’s somewhat well defined by the phrase from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” “If you had behaved in a more gentleman-like manner.” If only politicians could exhibit some more gentleman-like behavior, particularly during election season, it might be a more comfortable time for the citizens who have to choose between them. It might also help to keep tensions and political debates between family members on the at a low-key level.
“[Frank:] I can drink my liquor faster than a flicker./ [Annie:] I can do it quicker and get even sicker./ [Frank:] I can open any safe./ [Annie:] Without being caught?/ [Frank:] Sure./ [Annie:] That’s what I thought, ya crook!”
In the end of the film or show –not by the end of the song– the two reconcile and figure out a way to work together. Although it’s a bit contrived, for the sake of keeping the same exaggeration level throughout the musical, it works for them. The camaraderie that is shared between the two is something everyone should strive for–if not necessarily the hap-hazard way in which they achieved it.
It’s a silly movie, but it does show some very distinct and real, if hyperbolized, life situations. Don’t fall into the trap of contradiction for the sake of contradiction. Have a point and argue it intelligently. However, try to sometimes agree to disagree before the discussion gets out of hand and emotions start getting involved, because that can save a lot of grief and improve long-term acquaintanceships. Finding a common ground can help, too.
“[Frank:] I can jump a hurdle./ [Annie:] I can wear a girdle./ [Frank:] I can knit a sweater./ [Annie:] I can fill it better./ [Frank:] I can do most anything./ [Annie:] Can you bake a pie?/ [Frank:] No./ [Annie:] Neither can I.
On the other hand, don’t be afraid to call someone’s bluff for bragging too much. No one needs that much narcissism. Just don’t be mean about it either. Don’t ruin your potential for friendship by being aloof, condescending, or by heckling those you consider to be aloof or condescending. Don’t forget to retain those “gentleman-like” manners!