Monday, October 18, 2010

BROKEN ARROW (1950) - bridging the gap between the Indians and the white man, before the time when you could just hand out a Casino and call it a day


here is a clip from the film, not to be confused with that shitty John Travolta action vehicle (redundant, I concur)


Some people make fun of Jimmy Stewart. They recall the characters he portrayed in It’s a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and say something to the effect of “that ‘awww shucks’ Jimmy Stewart is such a pile of cornbread. ‘Gee golly willikers! Let’s all drink milk and stand up for what it right and help little old ladies cross the street!’ No pussy like Jimmy Stewart is gonna tell me what to do. Old ladies should not be out walking the streets anyway. They slow down foot traffic, blocking my way while I’m rushing to get to the comic book store. I say old people should stay indoors while they slowly die alone”.

Well, asshole, you happen to be dead wrong. A quick glance at IMDB reveals the following information: “He was the first movie star to enter the service for World War II, joining a year before Pearl Harbor was bombed. He was initially refused entry into the Air Force because he weighed 5 pounds less than the required 148 pounds, but he talked the recruitment officer into ignoring the test. He eventually became a Colonel(active duty) & then Brigadier General in the United States Air Force Reserve, and earned the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Croix de Guerre and 7 battle stars. In 1959, he served in the Air Force Reserve, before retiring as a brigadier general.” I’m not quite sure what all of that means, but it sure sounds like you would need a pretty big pair of brass balls to have achieved all of that.

So, based upon stone cold IMDB facts, JIMMY STEWART CAN FUCKING KICK YOUR ASS. He just chooses not to at this particular point in time. Real men don’t stomp their feet and yell about what tough badasses they are. They are gentlemen until it’s time not to be a gentleman. If this last point isn’t clear, just go watch Road House again.

The point is, Jimmy is an ACTOR, and Frank Capra asked him to play characters a certain way. His career has run the gamut from suave leading man to tough and damaged anti-hero. He made you THINK he’s a milk chugging pussy because he’s just that convincing a performer. People have seen It’s a Wonderful Life thirty times and start to think George Bailey and Jimmy Stewart are one in the same.

ANYWAY, Broken Arrow stars Jimmy as an ex-soldier who finds himself caught in the middle of an ongoing war between settlers and Apaches. He’s a rugged individual, a man of character and honor, but not an unrealistic hero out to save the day at all costs. He’s out panhandling for gold one day when he notices an Apache boy stumbling around, near death. He decides to help the boy, despite the ongoing war, as he considers it the right thing to do despite these circumstances. He carves chunks of buckshot out with his knife and nurses the boy back to health. Talk about fucking toughness. I’m sure many of these so-called “men” who would make fun of some “old timey” Jimmy Stewart movie would start crying if they even witnessed such an impromptu surgical procedure. They start loosing composure when their Playstation breaks down.

Well, this situation proves enlightening to Jimmy. The Apache boy prays for Jimmy to thank him, inviting him into his culture in a way. He tells Jimmy that he must be getting home because his mother is crying for his return. This surprises Jimmy, as his knowledge of the Apache culture is limited to local propaganda, how they are a band of savage animals with goofball feathers in their hair. From this simple exchange, he realizes that the boy is just another human being like himself. Jimmy is quickly ambushed by other Apaches, but the boy convinces them to spare his life.

Jimmy uses this opportunity to become an ambassador between the Apaches and the settlers, despite the jeers from other settlers, that he’s a traitor and “Indian lover”. He realizes that he can effect positive changes in a practical sense, perhaps helping to end this monstrous bloodshed. He initially sits down with chief Cochise, asking that they stop ambushing and murdering mail carriers. He makes his case, not by yelling and stomping his feet, but by first creating a human relationship with Cochise, showing that he is not just another white savage. Jimmy then explains how the settler’s mail system works, comparing it to the Apache’s smoke signals, and explains that these people are innocent workers who hold no agenda. Great strides are started with tiny steps to the rhythm of a common humanity, and not with idealistic hyperbole. Also, it helps if you’re not wearing jerk shoes. So to speak.



Jimmy also has some personal motivation for becoming friendly with the Apaches, namely the hand of a hot Native American chick (technically Debra Paget covered in brown shoe polish, but close enough). A cynic might point out that this is the REAL reason for all of this philanthropy and good will, but love is a two-way street, after all, and anyone who sets up a roadblock upon this street of love is a total asshole. So to speak. It’s also another small bridge between these two factions, although this relationship has the air of tragedy about it.

Here is a film that utilizes kinda similar material to Dances With Wolves, but is much more complex, despite being made forty years prior. The idealism present in a film like Dances only gets you so far in the real world. Once you break the surface, you’ve got to deal with the details and actually work shit out. Hugging in a circle never ended any kind of war (unless it was a war against cuddling).

Now, granted, whitey should be ashamed about the mass slaughter of Indians, as well as that manifest destiny bullshit. According to the white man, shit doesn’t exist until they declare it so, and while they are declaring it so, might as well declare yourself the owner, and then declare that it’s morally okay to kill people who disagree with you. Having said that, regardless of whoever throws the first punch (albeit a genocidal first punch), this war is a two-way street (just like love, ironically), and the opening salvo becomes lost in the shuffle. People end up taking sides with their own kind against one another. What we've got here is a failure to communicate, leading to a case of identity vs. identity. The more each side is attacked, the more they band together, and the more their respective tribal identities are increased. It takes a real man, a Jimmy Stewart, to toss his tribal identity (not to mention ego) aside long enough to attempt an understanding, the teaching that this identity they all hold so dear is merely a fa├žade. We are all human beings, and the only race is the human race, and those that wear jerk shoes will only stumble and bring the team down. I hope I got that metaphor right.



Now…let’s hold hands in a circle and sing Kumbaya. Boy, this campfire sure is nice. Anybody got some marshmallows? That would really be…hold on a second. I’m sorry, but this is the worst fucking song I’ve ever heard in my life. How about some Grateful Dead instead? How about not. Fuck this shit, I’m getting my boom box out of the car. Get ready for some god damn Anthrax. No, I don’t want to play with a hacky sack. I don’t EVER play a game no one can ever win. It’s called fucking COMPETITION. Assholes. I got a game we can play. It’s called MOSH PIT. Anyone who dies while moshing is immediately declared the winner. Yeah, keep it coming! Slam dance baby! Devil horns! Watch out for the…HOLY SHIT THAT GUY JUST CAUGHT FIRE! AWESOME!!! So…yeah. I had another important point to make, but I seem to have lost track of things. Oh well.


2 comments:

  1. Yee-haw! Walkin', talkin' stereotypes. Yee-haw!
    Have you ever heard of a Canadian redneck before?

    I think I may add the Scott Ian mullet to my list of what hairstyles I should try next.

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  2. I think the Scott Ian mullet only works if you have the beard ;)

    There are rednecks EVERYWHERE. I bet you could find them in Paris.

    ReplyDelete