Cuz cold blooded, premeditated murder is never cool.

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Male Revenge Fantasy Writ Large

The Daily Create was to make a gif from a “classic” section of a classic spaghetti western. The section was Clint Eastwood riding into town on a mule. Three racially stereotyped Mexican men, members of a local street gang, try to bully him and shoot at his mule’s feet as it turns and runs away from the sharp, explosive sound. The Eastwood character dismounts from the running mule by grabbing hold of a swinging crossbar. As he walks back to encounter the bullies, he passes the coffin maker and says, “Prepare three coffins”; i.e. he is premeditating murder.

Uncool.

He then returns to the men, and in an act of revenge that must swell every bullied schoolboy’s heart, he shoots not three but four bullies. I understand this is a male revenge fantasy, but I am definitely a person who correlates media saturation of violence with the acting out semi-adult males allow themselves to do with guns in public places.

In my neck of the West, the massacre at Umpqua Community College is still freshly with us. I jumped and my heart raced when Eastwood killed the four Hispanics at the end of the clip. The Kip Kinkle school massacre happened here at Thurston High School, and I was at the hospital when the victims started to arrive and the coffin rate started its grim count. The Clackamas Mall shooting happened not long ago near here, and my sister’s nurse colleague was shot. Need I start the current death toll from police shootings of women, blacks, and unarmed civilians?

Like many if not most American (women), I have a kind of citizen PTSD. I am not enured to the sound of gunshots. I don’t think the Eastwood character is even remotely cool. I see him for what he is: cynical, amoral, murderous. One review I read called him “mystical.”

Murderous young men are never “mystical.”

And that coolness factor is admired only by wannabe gang members and bullied, revenge-driven school boys, many of them older professionals now who grew up on this violent, poisonous pap and haven’t yet mucked out the barns of their interior worlds.

Gun violence is institutionalized in this country by a long history of media saturation, and while I am behind Obama all the way in his efforts to f-Ing finally DO some thing, ANYTHING about it, it still takes you and me examining our own soul’s deepest thinking about how okay it is to continue to endorse media violence.

Cuz cold blooded, premeditated murder is never cool.

This is a screenshot of a Google image search for "school shooters." What do they have in common?
This is a screenshot of a Google image search for “school shooters.” What do they have in common?

This is not the first time I’ve talked about the civilian PTSD from the schoolyard shooters. In this April 2012 digital story, I revisit the nervous aftermath of the April 20, 1999 Columbine High School massacre.

Sandy Brown Jensen

I am a retired writing instructor and faculty tech specialist from Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. I still teach and am also a photographer, poet, blogger and digital storyteller (short videos).

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12 comments

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  • I love that you are engaging with the western theme from a critical perspective! I really enjoyed reading your post. My first comment for 2016 goes to you Sandy. Well said. We need to question some of the frames in the genre as well as have fun with making stuff!

    • Mariana,
      I am honored to be your first in 2016!
      We here in Oregon are currently very freaked out about the domestic terrorist occupation of a beloved federal building at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, as well as the UCC shooting, so this is all very uppermost in my mind right now.
      I hope you took a moment to subscribe to mindonfire.us. I love the idea of writing to you in my mind 🙂

  • You’ve surely got a point here.
    The admiration of “solving” issues by using weapons in many cultures is not cool. It’s immature at its best.
    Clint is way out of line here.

    “Mysterious” … how about socially incapable of normal human interaction as another way of putting it?

    There’s something special about using weapons in the USA IMHO.
    Whereas the number of weapons per citizen in e.g. Sweden, Switzerland and Canada is very high too, the number of mass killings by “frustrated” (mentally disturbed, often male) people is very, very low.
    It did happen in the Netherlands a couple of years ago, but it’s very rare.

    We watch many USA movies in Europe too. We watched the good old Italian westerns too. Ditto the western series like Bonanza, The Virginian, Raw hide etc.

    Yet, somehow the culture in Europe (and e.g. Canada) is still so much different, that here’s it’s very rare that a young man grabs a gun and goes killing innocent people, despite a high number of weapons in family homes.

    Maybe we should emphasis in Western106 that we’re cowboys/-girls that solve issues by talking and negotiating? That would be something new, wouldn’t it?

    • Ron,
      The reason for the difference in cultural response to media gun violence is that:

      1. The wild West really does exist–it still exists–land barons, property rights, water and grazing rights, the hunting and gathering subculture are all right here–always have been, always will be. It goes with the massive geography and history. The Western and other movies are not at a geographical or cultural remove as they are in Europe.

      2. Hollywood is located right here in the West. It grew straight up out of that violent early West milieu, which really happened only yesterday.

      @cogdog has indicated that “anything goes” in Western106, from Jim Groom’s artistic appreciation of Leone’s films to Alan’s obvious ambivalence revealed in his conversion of “bang! bang! bang!” into “blog! blog! blog!” to Sandy’s feminist push-back.

      I am very excited by this collective potluck, and I look forward to seeing what other dishes land on the table!

      Thanks for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment! I hope you subscribed to Mind on Fire–it would be so cool to think of you and Mariana as my audience!

      Sandy

  • Well, it sure is an interesting discussion that this post will be making. One thing is that when people watch movie stories instead of just documentaries, they make a “willing suspension of disbelief.” Part of them knows that it is not a real thing (like those were just ACTORS and fake bullets) and that it is just a story. Sometimes people go too far, and they think that what they see in the movies (or on TV) is more real than it is, and they have a difficulty with reality. Like if someone played a part on TV (just one time even) but then everybody thought that they were evil and used a mean word on them all the time.

    I think that it was interesting when Clint was older and he made another cowboy movie about an older cowboy called Bill Munny, and in it that Bill Munny changed from his wild days and led a good life and didn’t drink any liquor. And the story was about how times were changing and people could change if they wanted to. But still if you were a bad guy then you should get what you deserved if you were mean to Friends (like Ned or the womenfolk). And when Bill Munny said one line in the movie, it was like a metacognition about how Clint knew. When Bill Munny said,

    “It’s a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have.”

    Because that is what it is. Even in real life, not just a movie that is a made up story.

    • TalkyTina,
      I always particularly enjoy when your doll persona cracks open and this Great Oz-ette starts speaking around the corners and through the cracks to the point where I think I am starting to see the compassionate, intelligent, and articulate spirit that animates her.

      In this case, I think your points are very well taken, and I appreciate that you took the time to stop by my little blogito to communicate them to me so well.

      Peace, Sister😇
      Sandy

  • Sandy, well stated and so true! Let’s stop glorifying violent men, now!

    Vana and I went to see Spotlight and the five previews were all for movies that seemed to be mindless plots about men with guns and the women who admire them. Disturbing, really.

    • Mike,
      I couldn’t agree with you more! It’s as if Hollywood is paying absolutely no attention to the concerns of the rest of the world and continues to feed the narcotic of violence to young men.
      Thanks for stopping by and taking these very adult concerns seriously.
      Sandy

  • Hi Sandy,
    Another great #western106 post that goes deep. This post has been bouncing around my head all morning. This will make this #106 season a lot more interesting and challenging.

    • Thanks for stopping by, John! The #western106 theme is as big as all outdoors and obviously isn’t just a media theme!

Sandy Brown Jensen

I am a retired writing instructor and faculty tech specialist from Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. I still teach and am also a photographer, poet, blogger and digital storyteller (short videos).

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