Mike Lester (AMS) offers a Yes-But-No take on the accidental shooting that has pushed poor little Gabby Petito off the top of the things we are obsessing over while Rome burns.
It’s not unusual for people who have no idea what they’re talking about to pipe up with their analysis on social media, but we’re also seeing the regular media scrambling to find people who, if they really understood the topic, would decline to comment until more information was available.
I have seen a couple of responsible explainers that outlined how gunplay is supposed to be handled on movie sets, notably this analysis from Australia and this extended Twitter thread, neither of which pretend to know what happened, both of which say nothing should have and both of which make fascinating reading.
The days when the producers of the French Connection could stage a more-or-less spontaneous car chase are over, as are the days when a young actress could claim to have essentially been raped in the course of filming Last Tango in Paris.
These days, every aspect of action is overseen and choreographed, or, at least, is required to be.
But our not knowing how things went wrong in this case has hardly slowed the pace of speculation, either on-line or in the media.
Getting back to Lester’s take, the Yes-But-No factor is that, certainly, there is a large and vocal progressive cadre in Hollywood who are anti-violence and anti-gun. He’s right about that.
But you’d hardly know it for the increasingly brutal films and TV shows flooding the market.
Terry Gross had a fascinating Fresh Air interview with TCM Host Eddie Muller on the topic of Film Noir, in which he spoke of the old movie code and how gangster films had to work around rules that said evil must not triumph.
It reminded me of the scene in City for Conquest in which Anthony Quinn rapes Ann Sheridan, but all you hear is her protests and all you see is her shoe, discarded in the struggle.
In 1940, the audience knew what happened off stage, but today’s audience would demand — and would get — a front row seat.
Specific to guns, while Steve McQueen may have been conflicted by internal corruption in Bullitt, (1968) Harry Callaghan touched off an entire series three years later, based on the idea that the road to justice requires depriving suspects of any semblance of Constitutional rights, while Charles Bronson started another popular series three years after that, featuring both graphic rape scenes and violent vigilante justice.
Meanwhile, increasingly gruesome TV cop shows convince viewers that they are in far more danger than they really are, ramping up their real-world appetite for strong police who cut corners to achieve justice.
For every Susan Sarandon there is a Clint Eastwood, and there is no shortage of audience for grim violence. It’s not about them. It’s about us.
And as Lester suggests, this accident is not about to shut down production.
Or idle speculation.
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
Dogs and doorbells go back to the dawn of television: We laughed at my dog’s response to TV doorbells more than 60 years ago.
Leroy is a little more hip and I can identify with him, because I also hear little blips and chirps and such and puzzle over what’s wrong this time. Granted, I’m grateful that the refrigerator chirps if the door is cracked open, for instance, though my microwave nags far longer than necessary when it’s done.
What really puts me into Grumpy Old Man mode, however, is radio and TV shows that add random chirps and blips to their backgrounds, just to let you know they’re really hip.
At that point, yes, I feel like the dog, because I’m watching something and suddenly find myself looking around to see if my phone or my fridge or my microwave or who knows what is trying to get my attention.
Adding random chirps to your soundtrack is not hip. It’s just annoying.
Juxtaposition of the Day #2
As long as I’m consarning things, let me add my aching back to the pile of complaints, with the proviso that I’m not sure whether I’m complaining about the the insults of old age — as in Frazz’s splash page today — or about the current state of the medical profession, as Matt points out.
Six years ago, I readily walked my dog three or four miles at a stretch while, for the past two or three years, I’ve been lucky to make a mile before my back gives out.
In that time, they fixed a cancer they were sure was going to kill me, but now nobody seems to know what’s wrong with my damn back.
Yes, obviously, if they hadn’t done such a miraculous job with the cancer, the back would no longer be a problem. Not my point.
But the combination of the pandemic and various economic cutbacks at the med center have seriously reduced face-to-face meetings over the past year and a half.
Which leaves me wondering, when I show up in two weeks for my long-delayed MRI, if someone is going to be surprised to find out I’m a centaur.
Or not a centaur.
Whatever’s on my record.
But let’s close by going back to the Good Old Days, and this Macanudo (KFS) reminds me of the glories of the giant swingset the steel company put in when they built a housing location back home.
Like her tree, it was firmly rooted, so that, if you pumped hard enough, you’d reach a momentary point of zero gravity without the set coming up out of the ground. Take that, Elon Musk!
The summer I was eight, Keith and Bobby and I spent nearly every day on those swings, shooting down Zeros and Messerschmidts but invariably getting shot down ourselves, which required bailing out.
And so I made sure my boys had a swing in the big elm tree in our backyard, and I only caught them once pulling it up to the garage roof and jumping off.
Which means that’s the only time it happened.
(Words by Robert Louis Stevenson, Illustrated by Charles Robinson)