Saturday, May 23, 2009

What Ever Happened to the White Hats?

Going through the Guardian movie reviews I noted a certain ambivalence in the subjects. Most seem dark and depressed, even the children's movies like Prince Caspian had a lot of death. Now Terry Gilliam has a movie out starring a dead guy and his three substitutes. Wow. Should have started with Johnny Depp, he never dies. But there aren't any heroes like we had when the Lone Ranger was about. Some time around Batman, the movie, the world got a little darker. Might have been when the US of A started bombing villages to save Democracy. Or maybe it was when they killed Jack Kennedy. Dirty Harry never wore a white hat, although Clint did on occasion. My Dad wore a White hat, a Stetson, which is currently sitting on my armoire in the bedroom. I tried it on but it felt huge and tall and tight. Guess I'm no hero. Maybe I should use the hat to check on that aspect of suitors for Jess's hand in marriage. Try on the hat and see how it fits. Jess could probably fit the hat but she wouldn't try it on because it wouldn't suit her style.

Can a black man in a white hat be a hero in a bigotted country? Somehow I think not. Between the tap dancing and singing our President doesn't have time to do right. So we continue to drop bombs on children and call them collaterol damage, a term I have not heard from the White House since the Viet Nam genocide. Makes you wonder.

On the one hand we have the previous crowd of heroes still, but they are old, aged, tired and discouraged. Not that term. Cronkite still writes and speaks out for democracy for America, but the media will not cover anybody who acts like things are not well in America, the best of the best bar none, except immigrants. I would lke a political party in which the Jimmy Carters and Walter Cronkites spoke to the values we were taught about as kids in school. Those values which have been shelved for many years but still sound pretty good. You know, the kind wherein kids in high school are eager to join Peace Corps for a couple years before college rather than look for a snazzy college to get a good wage degree from. Nobody wants to be a hero if they have to live in squallor and drink heavily or eat messy hot dogs for lunch.  But the subtlety of this is so fine and clever. Note that since the early days of film the "bad guy" had wealth and a great home and a great looking bimbette. The hero lived in a house with a broken stair, cracked coffee cups and no girl friend at all unless you count the great gal he never kisses. Now we have guys who live in garbage cans as heroes. Not much to impress the children, eh? Small wonder they grow up wanting to be Wall Street speculators.

We can't just start making phony films showing rich powerful good guys because A) it's too soon and B) power and riches corrupt goodness, note the Pope. Batman is a fantasy, remember, who rarely gets laid. So somehow we need to show that even though you don't get rich, you can be happy with yourself and your kids won't think you're a loser if you fight the "Good Fight". You might even get laid. Robin Hood was a good guy who even started out rich but gave it up to fight the Bad Guy.

In India, in the good old days, maybe not so much nowadays, you would live hard until middle age and then, even if rich and powerful, you gave it all up and went to meditate by a stream clothed in a wrap and owning only a beggers bowl. You looked for peace and understanding, not wealth and power. That's India though and we think of them as "seriously messed up with funny accents". But it would be nice if somebody like Gates gave ALL ther money away in order to meditate on Life. It would be even better if the ex-Presidents all went from the White House to work in a soup kitchen. Until then I guess we'll have to make do with ancient mythology as a guide to ethical behavior and the value of a simple life.

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