“I am a man of constant sorrow. I’ve seen trouble all my days.”
— The Soggy Bottom Boys and every Ole Miss fan who ever lived
“O Brother, Where Art Thou?” is a 2000 film produced by Joel and Ethan Coen and just so happens to be the greatest film of all time (in my humble and always unbiased opinion).
The film is based off of Homer’s “Odyssey” and takes place in depression-era Mississippi, following three main characters (Ulysses Everett McGill, Pete Hogwallop and Delmar O’Donnell) as they escape what is assumed to be Parchman Farm in search of a treasure buried by Everett before his incarceration. The trio encounters various individuals on their travels which parallel characters in Homer’s work, including sirens and a cyclops.
What you may not know about this film is that it also has parallels to what it’s like to be an Ole Miss fan, wandering in the midst of depression in search of fleeting moments of gratification and happiness only to be followed by more depression. I’ve selected some scenes, songs and, yes, memes from the movie to help illustrate how the Brothers Coen inadvertently depicted the plight of the Ole Miss Rebel in their masterpiece.
Let’s dive in.
A Man of Constant Sorrow
Probably the most famous moment from the movie comes when our main characters enter a radio station to “sing into a can” and cut a record, calling themselves the “Soggy Bottom Boys” which is actually the name of the band who recorded the real song below.
I led with this quote in this here story because as those invested in Ole Miss sports, we are, well, men of constant sorrow. NCAA nuclear fallout, Matt Luke’s era, bad (normal?) Ed Orgeron, Houston “Hooty Dale” Nutt, 4th & 25. Need I continue?
After the now-christened Soggy Bottom Boys record their soon-to-be hit, they run into the Governor of Mississippi, Pappy O’Daniel, who, in the midst of a vicious election cycle, broadcasts music and his voice from the same radio station.
O’Daniel’s son, portrayed as insanely dense, asks his father, “Don’t you want to press the flesh, Pappy? Do a little politickin’?” Pappy responds, “I’ll press your flesh you dimwitted sumbitch. We ain’t one-at-a-timin’ here. We’re mass communicatin’!”
We here at Red Cup Rebellion, while we care about our reading constituency, realize that we have a platform that provides news articles like this to our followers, and we, like Pappy O’Daniel, have settled into “mass communicatin’” through the channel provided by SB Nation.
Here’s a clip from that scene.
Oh, George, not the livestock
Our trio has a run in with George “Babyface” Nelson who is a stereotypical 1920s gangster who likes to rob banks. While he’s on the run from the police, Nelson decides to shoot some cows in the process, prompting a famous like from Delmar, “Oh, George, not the livestock.” Here’s the scene.
This is my mood (and I’m sure yours as well) when Ole Miss tries to shoot the basketball this season from deep, especially when that shot comes from a big man. Here’s what I mean.
Say, any of you boys smithies?
When our protagonists are escaping from the chain gang, they hop onto a train with their chains still attached, leading to this scene.
This scene leads itself easily into a recruiting analogy. (I made this meme on Snapchat so forgive its crude nature).
While Delmar believes Pete has been transformed into a toad, he and Everett meet with a “bible salesman” portrayed by John Goodman who beats them up and robs them.
“Big Dan” Teague here represents the NCAA, and Delmar and Everett are Ole Miss, beaten to a pulp and squished by the amateurism stances of the NCAA.
Even through all their turmoil, both from within and without (Everett’s treasure wasn’t real, causing a rift in the group, but he is able to reunite with his estranged wife before she marries another man), our protagonists come out on top, becoming the “braintrust” for Pappy O’Daniel after his reelection. Homer Stokes, O’Daniel’s adversary in the election, is discovered to be a part of the Ku Klux Klan and is turned on by his supporters.
This is what it’s like to be an Ole Miss fan. We suffer, but we love who we are and where we come from, and the real “treasure” isn’t championships, it’s the friends you make along the way. Or is it championships? Championships would be nice, too, I guess.
Either way, this is an elite movie, and if you’ve never seen it, I suggest you change that ASAP. It tackles issues of race in 1920s Mississippi, and is honestly just a fun watch. And when you’re watching, be sure to remember the real message behind the film: it’s hard (but sometimes rewarding) to be an Ole Miss fan.