Sunday, July 31, 2016

American in the Nexus of Race and Guns Part 6

I don't remember if I saw Cat Ballou in the theater or on television. The second run movie house could have had it as a feature for a Saturday afternoon matinee.

It isn't impossible for me to have seen it on the big screen.

I would not have known about Nat King Cole's music career. I probably was trying to figure out why Sidney Poitier was not in the movie.

Sidney was in dang almost every movie I could think of in the 1960s.

I did like my westerns with the shooting and and killing of bad people. I was heavily invested in the killing of bad people.

But change came. New ideas were seeping into the general consciousness. I remember being in the audience with John Wayne type movie.

There comes a point when the Union army general or scout refereed to Native Americans as savages.

The audience, 99.5% black responded with jokes and booing. When the indigenous land owners were killing up said Union army there was cheering.

So that is probably why there was a whole lot of Clint Eastwood movies at my local cinema. Less wear and tear and not so much popcorn boxes chucked at the screen.

I digress.

Kat Ballou wasn't that kind of movie. It was a western comedy.

Plucky young woman returns home with her dad only to find out that a bad man is causing trouble.

Still got your Native American in service and white guys doing pretty much what they want.

And if you think about it the movie does kind of carry the meme that the only power anyone has it is the power of the gun to invoke change.

You want justice, do it yourself.

You want wealth, take it.

You want self-respect in an unfair land, fight for it.

Cuz real good so-called G-d fearing/loving citizens don't give a damn about anything other than their own self interests.

Yeah, yeah. I'm putting too much into it. Just a comedy movie.

Friday, July 22, 2016

American in the Nexus of Race and Guns Part 5

There are photos of Jeff Goldblum moving through social media. The are mainly talking about how hot he looks for a 63 year-old man.

This fact is not in dispute. On the sexy hotness scale from Zero to 10 he is burning 13.75 and climbing.

Which puts me back in the cross hairs of being an American and gun culture. On a lazy summer afternoon I watched a movie called Mad Dog Time.

IMDB describes it as:

With his boss in the madhouse, a mobster is temporary boss of the criminal empire just as vicious rivals threaten the control of the empire.

Naw that ain't it. There is a whole lot of shoot 'em up bang bang in this movie. It is stylized. Some times shocking. Occasionally funny.

And there is Goldblum being that fine looking, up to no good and cut me a slice self. In this one scene alone you got Billy Idol, Kyle MacLachlan, Gregory Hines and Jeff Goldblum.

It is an acquired taste movie. It is stylized and mounted well but there is a whole lot of killing going on.

If you got the taste for it, it is a hoot.

Americans did not seem to have a taste for this movie.
Americans sometimes have a problem with sex, comedy and guns all in one place.  

It only opened on 18 screens and seems to have disappeared from distribution shortly after release.

It might have been one of those tax dodge movies that was popular at the time.

I don't know.

I do know that I'll watch almost anything with Goldblum.
I kind feel icky that I remember and liked this movie. 

Kinda like the undercurrent of seduction that goes on in the film and gun culture.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

American In the Nexus of Race and Guns Part 4

I guess one of the unasked questions in current movie fiction is can you be a strong man solving problems without a gun.

We know men can be goofs.

They can be con men.

Beloved hump fiends with their own private sex shooter.

But when was the last time you remember a movie that did not have the male hero/protagonist without using a gun (bomb, rocket, robot, spaceship with photon torpedoes) to solve the problem or be restored whole?

I know that this movie is based on a series of famous books.

I've never read them.

Spy genre is not my preferred reading area of interest.

The thing is that variations of this poster is on every bus, shuttle, cab and transportation device.
I have no choice but to see this image of a man with a gun.

Still with the Orlando shooting in my mind. Still with the most recent death by cop videos. Still with all the yakity yak about 2nd amendments vs gun control talk.

This is how I wind up in the nexus.

Because in the United States, that piece of metal means more than any one individual's life be it a child, woman or man.

And we are so connected to the gun.

Attitudes have to change. How we tell stories about guns and power might have to change.

And we are not there yet.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

American In the Nexus of Race and Guns Part 3

Now if you want to really get down to it we'd have to talk about Spaghetti westerns. Sorry about the ads, the other versions are getting yanked down. Because cultural memories are DCMA protected.

One man as hero/anti-hero.

Dark skinned people as bad guys or poor preyed upon town folk.

Good and evil.

Law and Disorder.

The gun is used as a tool for respect compensation.

And in-between the JuJu Beans and 25 cent Coca Cola I learned that a man and a gun were all you needed to get by.

That messaged is ingrained in our fiction, history and cultural expression.

So maybe when we attempt to talk about gun control what we might be doing is talking about changing our belief systems.

And Americans are a loath to do that as they are to admit that there might be some structural problems that require more than sound bites to solve.

American In the Nexus of Race and Guns Part 2

My gun education was passive; meaning I didn't have to do much to be indoctrinated. Saturday mornings television had adventure, sci-fi and westerns.

Guns played a major role in almost all of them.

This is an episode of the Lone Ranger animated series; it was steampunk before steampunkers were born.

Bad guys have the Gatling gun, good guys have pistols and arrows.

Bad guys have fire rain machine, good guys has pistols and a rope.

Lone Ranger stops army of bad men.

I would not have know about Latinos or people in the Southwest. I would not have questioned an army garrison or why Tonto was so bounded to the Ranger. And why didn't the horse catch a bullet or two?"

So I would have learned:

  • The myth that one man can stop an army. 
  • Guns save a nation.
  • Bad guys are stupid, why didn't Agent Z blow up the garrison and any other military support?

American In the Nexus of Race and Guns Part 1

The first movie I ever saw by myself was In the Heat of the Night. I am sure that there was a Three Stooges short and a couple of Warner Brothers cartoons in front of it. Probably one of those that had Elmer tooting a gun.

I can't remember.
I do remember this movie.


I understood about cops harassing and detaining without warrant or reasonable cause other than the color of your skin.

I absorbed the audience reaction when Tibbs struck the rich man as doing something none of us could possibly do and live to tell about it.

I felt the fear about being chased by a mob of angry young white men that had no other sport. 

I was also chomping down a lot of butter popcorn and Mike and Ike's so I may have missed a few things.

What did I learn at 8 years of age
  • Have to be careful around white folks.
  • Have to be careful around white folks with guns and chains.
  • Sidney Poitier was Superman in a suit 
  • I'm going to do my best to stay out of the south.

Looking back, I think I absorbed was the understanding that guns and power could keep you safe but if you had some brains and something that other people wanted that might keep you alive too.