There are 58,000 stories in this naked city, a few less than in New York City, which was the location for the 1948 Academy Award winning film, and later television series, ‘The Naked City’. The film was shot partially in documentary style on location in the streets of New York. According to Time magazine, the television series was “not just another cop show” and has been heralded as one of the most innovative crime shows in history because it put a “face on crime”.
Going beyond the simple struggle between good and evil the Naked City explained the more hidden side of personal conflicts. You might call the stories presented in the television series a compilation of mini psychodramas.
Season 4 brought ‘No Naked Ladies in Front of Giovanni’s House!’ to the small screen, which David Maine of PopMatters, describes “the show’s overarching tone could be described as humanist, if not outright bleeding-heart liberal. In fact, if the show had a motto, it might be: “Things are not what they seem.”
I believe the Great Falls High School play, ‘Converge: E Pluribus Unum’, researched and written by Sarah Butts, shares some similarities with ‘The Naked City’. The GFPS website describes the play as an “original production based on interviews with Great Falls Public Schools youth and educators who shared stories of struggle, loss, triumph and hope. These personal stories will raise awareness and spark conversation about the depth and breadth of hardship many youth and families in our community face”.
You might also say that the play attempts to put a face on the low Great Falls High School graduation rates as the objective because these are real kids, facing real problems, not just a mathematical percentage. That is why organizations like Graduation Matters are responsible for providing funding for the docudrama and the sequel video production.
Just as The Naked City presented the raw look at conditions and interpersonal issues in the real New York City, Converge in its verbatim format presents unaltered testimonials of life in Great Falls for some students in our school district. Drug abuse, teen pregnancy, homelessness, sexual orientation, sexual assault and lack of parental involvement, certainly all play a role in student success or failure.
On May 7th, the Great Falls Public School District will most likely be asking taxpayers to approve another operational levy, and my guess is that ‘Converge: E Pluribus Unum’ is a strategic part of the district’s plan to achieve success at the ballot box.
In other words, if you can’t shame ‘em, educate ‘em and if the voters say no, blame ‘em. Only more money can solve our problems according to Superintendent Tammy Lacey, who wrote on the district’s website, February 25, 2019:
“Converge has reminded us that we belong to a community and that means we should be joining hands, minds and yes, dollars, for the common good. By living in a community, we have responsibilities…to each other and to the next generation. No one understands that responsibility more than you. Thanks for your devotion to our kids, our community and our future. I’m listening for the winds of change and I hope you are too.” (emphasis added)
If, as it’s beginning to look like to me and others, the GFPS District is using ‘Converge’ to push another school tax increase it would be a slap in the face to the good work done by the students in the play and to the local groups trying to raise public awareness of some real social and family problems. And it would backfire, because we aren’t stupid.
Will the levy, if it were to pass, go to help students, or will the money go to increased administrative salaries, like the huge raise for the new superintendent, and health care insurance premiums as has been the case in the past?
“There are 58,000 stories in this Naked City. This has been one”