Monday, May 14, 2012

Mostly, It's a Guy Thing

This post was triggered by some events of yesterday and today. Unavoidably, it spills over into politics, but just a very little. You will be happy to know that you are not required to agree with me.

A friend was putting together a list of guitar recordings for a CD and solicited my assistance. (As a hobby, I have acquired 2,785 songs in mp3 format, nearly all from the period 1955 to 1969.) The CD was to be for a group of men.

I sent (emailed) her a list of roughly twenty numbers and sent her the ones she did not already have. Although the list was to be guitar rock, I included a couple of numbers that didn't *quite* fit, explaining why I did so. In particular, I said ". . . I added The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly because *every* guy likes it."

Today she provided the men with a preview of the list, along with some selections of her own. Her next email to me included this:
Well! "I added The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly because *every* guy likes it." That explains why as I played the list they kept telling me we could sample and move thru the list till we got to *that* one which played 3 times. I kept saying..."Guys? Sample?? GUYS!?!?!?" Hahahaha
The introduction of that song into a random gathering of men will produce an *instant* stillness and attentiveness, and no red-blooded, English speaking male on this planet has passed his majority without occasionally whistling a passage from that number. You know the passage I mean.

Along with The Good, the Bad & and the Ugly, Clint Eastwood's "man with no name" movies and his "Dirty Harry" movies have achieved cult status.

Why is that?

Herewith, an opinion. In those movies his characters were imbued with a sense of purpose, sometimes personal, sometimes official and personal. The actions he considered necessary to achieve that purpose were not always legal - some would say not always moral. But he always did what was necessary to achieve his purpose, and he was always capable of doing it. When necessary he did it without compunction and without regard for the niceties of the law, even as police detective Harry Callahan.

An example: In Dirty Harry, Detective Callahan had two concerns - the welfare of a kidnapped girl (young, perhaps ten or twelve years old) and the apprehension of the kidnapper. At one point he catches up with the kidnapper, there is some gunplay, and the kidnapper is lying on the ground, wounded in one leg. Dirty Harry is frantic to learn the fate of the girl, and questions the kidnapper, who begins sniveling about his rights. Harry grinds his heel into the leg wound and gets the information.

I saw this movie in a theater, and much of the crowd cheered this action. Liberal critics were horrified - horrified, I say, that Americans would cheer such a brutish action.

What the critics showed no horror about, and what was going on in America then and continues to go on in America today, is the way such criminals - murderers, kidnappers, rapists, child molesters, etc. are dealt with by the system. In the great majority of cases sentencing consists of a slap on the wrist. The killer or child molester is not a *bad* person, only a *sick* one. Many are back on the streets after serving a small portion of a long sentence, and many - particularly child molesters, who have an extremely high recidivism rate - repeat their crimes, adding to a long list of victims of previously convicted criminals.

In the real world, New York officials and liberal columnists were also horrified at the popular support for Bernard Goetz, who shot four thugs who tried to rob him on the subway. The thugs were black and the usual attempt was made to turn the issue into a racist crime. A jury, whose members rode the subway and six of whom had been victims of street crime, refused to convict Goetz of anything but possession of an unlicensed firearm.

Now in New York City the crime of possession of an unlicensed gun is roughly equivalent to the crime of spitting on the sidewalk, but the judge, apparently also horrified by the popular support, vindictively sentenced Goetz to six months in jail, a year of psychiatric treatment, a probationary period of five years, two hundred hours community service, and a five thousand dollar fine. On appeal, the sentence was reduced to one year with no probation.

Bernard Goetz was widely and wildly supported by the public because of his small time but real life Dirty Harry actions. Three things must be taken into consideration regarding the audience cheering when Harry Callahan ground his heel into the kidnapper's leg wound:

1. The audience knew that to Callahan the victim's welfare was more important than the "rights" or "rehabilitation" of the perpetrator.

2. The audience knew that in a similar situation in real life the kidnapper would one day be free to walk the streets and victimize someone ese.

3. It was a movie, and an emotional release.

As for The Outlaw Josey Wales, Blondie (The Good, the Bad & the Ugly), and the man with no name, well, they knew that when it comes to bad guys the only good one is a dead one.

A friend and I once attended a showing of 5 1/2 hours of Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly, A Fistful of Dollars, and For a Few Dollars More. About halfway through there was an intermission. The audience was overwhelmingly male, and we hit the sidewalk for a toke and some conversation. One man confessed that this was his 23rd viewing of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. (The official running time of that one is two hours forty-one minutes.)

While the films themselves appeal predominantly to men, they also turned Clint Eastwood into a sex symbol of sorts, and grown women have been reduced to giggling girls in chance encounters with him.

"A good man always knows his limitations." - Magnum Force
"You don't listen, do you, asshole?" and "Well, do you, punk?" - Dirty Harry
"Smith, and Wesson, and me." and "Go ahead. Make my day." - Sudden Impact
"Dyin' ain't much of a living, boy." - The Outlaw Josey Wales
"You know, you're gonna look awfully silly with that knife sticking up your ass." - High Plains Drifter