The movie channel AMC is currently showing back to back the 1947 original and the 1994 remake of “Miracle on 34th Street”, the classic Christmas tale about a young girl named Susan played by precocious youngsters Natalie Wood in the original and Mara Wilson in the remake.
I will have to admit that last night was the first time I’ve ever watched these movies in their entirety. However, at the risk of sounding “bah humbug” about this wonderful Christmas season, little Susan has some Christmas wishes that require comment. First, that her mom and the mom’s boyfriend get married and that her dreams of a family become fulfilled. I have no problem with that. She also asks Santa that they all live happily ever after in the suburbs in a single-family home. (Her housing ambitions are torqued up a notch from a relatively modest tract home in the original to a virtual mansion in the remake. Mind you, this is a little girl living in a luxury apartment on Central Park West in New York City.)
OK, so what’s my issue? Well, once again, apartment living is depicted in our popular culture as less than desirable than suburban life in a single-family home. Once again, renters are featured, however subtly, as unhappy and unfulfilled as if our choice of housing is a prerequisite to living a complete life.
Renter Nation’s mission is to elevate the societal and cultural status of America’s more than 100 million residential renters. “Miracle on 34th Street” is just another example of the uphill battle we face every day in promoting renters as productive members of American society and renting as a positive and sustainable lifestyle choice.