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"Seinfeld": Every Man for Himself

Seinfeld is a popular television comedy based on the humor of comedian Jerry Seinfeld. In an episode entitled "The Fire," Jerry's friend, George Costanza (Jason Alexander), attends a child's birthday party at an apartment at the request of his girlfriend, Robin. While a clown is providing entertainment for the kids, Robin's mother approaches him: "Excuse me—you must be George. I'm Robin's mother. You seem like such a lovely young man."

"Well, I do what I can," George sheepishly replies.

Robin joins them. "Hi, Ma. How is everything?"

"This is just a wonderful party!"

"Well, the burgers should be ready in a minute," Robin says before she goes to talk to someone else. Her mother also leaves to talk to someone she recognizes.

George, standing alone, says, "What's that smell? Is that smoke?" As he walks into the kitchen, he is startled. "Everybody! I think I smell some smoke back here! Fire! Get out of here!"

George runs out of the kitchen in a panic, knocking over the clown, an old lady with a walker, and a couple of kids. "Get out of my way!" he yells, as he opens the front door of the apartment and runs away.

In the very next scene, George is outside getting oxygen from a group of paramedics. "It was an inferno in there!" he tells them.

Suddenly the clown runs over to George and says, "There he is! That's him!" Several angry children and Robin's mother gather round. "That's the coward that left us to die!" cries Robin's mother. The clown tries to hit George with an oversized shoe.

The next scene shows George standing by a fireman, a paramedic, the clown, Robin, and her mother. He tries to explain his actions: "I was trying to lead the way. We needed a leader, someone to lead the way to safety."

Robin objects: "But you yelled, 'Get out of my way!'"

"Because as the leader," George continues, "if I die, then all hope is lost. Who would lead? The clown? Instead of castigating me, you should be thanking me. What kind of topsy-turvy world do we live in where heroes are cast as villains, and brave men as cowards?"

"But I saw you push the women and children out of the way in a mad panic," someone yells out. "I saw you knock them down. And when you ran out, you left everyone behind."

"Seemingly," George refutes. "To the untrained eye, I can fully understand how you got that impression. What looked like pushy, what looked like knocking down, was a safety precaution. In a fire, you stay close to the ground. Am I right? And when I ran out that door, I was not leaving anyone behind. I risked my life making sure that exit was clear. Any other questions?"

The fireman offers just one more: "How do you live with yourself?"

"It's not easy," George replies.

In the final scene of the clip, George is in a restaurant with Jerry. "She doesn't want to see me anymore," George says, referring to Robin.

"Did you knock her over too, or just the kids?"

"No, her too. And her mother."

"So you feel 'women and children first' in this day and age is somewhat of an antiquated notion?" Jerry says.

"To some degree, yeah."

"So basically, it's every man, woman, child, and invalid for themselves?"

"In a manner of speaking," George replies. "She should be commending me for treating everyone like equals."

"Perhaps when she's released from the burn center, she'll see things differently," Jerry says.

DVD, Season 5, Disc 4 ("The Fire"); 00:09:50–00:13:15

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