May 24, 2000

“America: Land of the Stupid Cowboys”

 


        Americans have become stupid and apathetic, as well as utterly resigned to some really dangerous and idiotic ideas that anyone with any sense at all would deal with immediately.  The new American attitude seems to be: “Maybe it’ll fix itself, but if it doesn’t directly affect me, why should I care?”

"Gun Crazy" (1949)
        Handguns have NOTHING to do with freedom or the Bill of Rights, and are entirely about breaking the law and killing people.  There is nothing positive that can be said of handguns other than they’re cool and fun to play with and make you feel tough when you have no right feeling tough.
        The Bill of Rights makes absolutely no mention of handguns.  What it says is that we have “the right to bear arms” (and we’ll just skip the “well-regulated militia” part for the time being).  I believe that non-automatic rifles completely fulfill this right: deer rifles, elephant rifles, 30-30 Winchesters, M-1 carbines, 12-gauge over-and-under pump shotguns, etc.
        I am a Libertarian and I still believe that there needs to be regulation regarding weapons.  The general public has no use for automatic weapons, mortars, flame-throwers, Bouncing Bettys, Claymore mines, ballistic missiles, and they also have no good use for handguns, either.
        Concealed weapons are illegal.  This is not a bad law as laws go.  It makes me just a hair more secure believing that most people do not have a weapon on them that I can’t see.
        Now, given that concealed weapons are illegal, and that’s a reasonable law, what exactly is the advantage of a handgun over a rifle?  It’s smaller.  And why is smaller better?  For the sole purpose of concealment.
        And we all fucking know this!  But we all pretend like we don’t know it because it’s easier that way, and for Americans now, the easy way is always the better way.

Adolf Hitler
        As the NRA and handguns supporters love to remind us, the first thing the Nazis did upon taking power in 1933 was confiscate all of the public’s weapons -- that’s handguns AND rifles.  Inherent in this example, I think, is ”what if the Nazis take over our government?”  Well, I’m lost.  If the Nazis try to take over the American government, it’ll be easier to fight them off with pistols than with rifles?  Personally, I’d rather have that 30-30 Winchester (like “The Rifleman”) than some silly pistol.  I could hold off a lot more Nazis with a rifle than a pistol.
        Americans have developed a stupid streak that no amount of education or clear alternate examples will rid them of.
        I have spent about a year and a half down in New Zealand.  Handguns are illegal there and always have been.  Cops don’t have guns there.  Guess what?  Nobody ever gets shot.  Shootings are not part of daily life there (it makes the newspaper rather boring, but that seems like a perfectly reasonable trade-off to me).  New Zealanders get drunk, get in fights, stab each other and, every now and again, even go get a rifle and shoot each other -- but not very often.  It really takes the spontaneity out of it if instead of reaching into your jacket, pulling a pistol and shooting someone, you must drive home, get your rifle and drive back.  Even if you live nearby it’s a hassle.
        But honestly, I think deep down Americans LIKE shooting each other, it perpetuates the American cowboy mythos.  “Smile when you say that, pardner.”  BOOM!  Plug ‘em in the guts.  We’re rootin’-tootin’, gun-slingin’ Americans, and if we want to get shit-faced and shoot up the saloon, that’s our God-given right.

"The Ten Commandments"
with Charlton Heston as Moses
        You know what?  BULLSHIT!  We’ve got ourselves brainwashed by idiots like Charlton Heston, president of the NRA, who would shit his old Hollywood drawers if someone pulled a handgun on him.  Instead, Chuck gets to sit in his Beverly Hills mansion playing with his old muskets and believing he’s really Moses.  Heston would probably not last one whole day as a teacher in an inner city school.
        Is there honestly one adult American who seriously believes that if we all had handguns we’d be safer?  That’s like believing that you can calm down a class a 5th graders by giving them all pees and pee-shooters.
        We Americans have got ourselves completely befuddled.  We seriously believe that we are the freest nation on Earth, yet we have more of our own population in jail than any other country in the world.  What’s up with that, huh?  Are we living in “the land of the free” or “the land of the incarcerated?”
        But let’s get back to what idiots Americans are, OK?  We will happily destroy young people’s lives arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating them for smoking pot when we all know that pot is a much happier, safer drug than the much more popular and deadly alcohol.  Nobody gets into fights or commits crimes when they’re high on pot, and it actually makes you pay more attention to your driving.
        But we stupidly persist in keeping marijuana illegal and alcohol available on every corner in every store.  Ask any taxi driver in Amsterdam (as I have) which they would prefer to pick up, people from a bar or people from a coffeeshop (where you get the pot) -- they always choose the people from the coffeeshop, who are funny and friendly, as opposed to the drunks, who are obnoxious, snotty and looking to start a fight.

        We Americans have also come to believe that democracy and capitalism are the same thing.  Sadly, though, shareholders are a lot more important than citizens.  In the name of profit and the bottom line it is now perfectly OK to fuck your entire community.  Staying competitive is far more admirable than being a good citizen.  In fact, being rich makes you better than a citizen, you become a super-citizen, or uber-citizen, with twice the rights of the average citizen.
        True civil rights have occurred in America.  What most people don’t realize is that civil rights don’t begin at the bottom with the poor people, they begin at the top with the rich people.  Poor people will ultimately get their civil rights last.  Right now if you are a rich enough American of any race, creed or color you too can get away with murder -- just look at O. J. Simpson.  And that’s choice, top-end civil rights at their finest because O. J. got to brutally stab both an attractive white woman and an attractive white man and got away with it.  Oh, sure, it was a little shocking at the time, but we all got past it pretty quickly.  He had enough money to buy his way out, so he did -- that’s the American way and the sign of true equality.  Now if O. J. gets his own late-night talk show I don’t think anyone would be particularly surprised or outraged.
        And you see, O. J. didn’t need a handgun, he got the job done with a knife, and so can the rest of us.  Come on, people, use your imaginations.
        There is a blind stupidity in Americans now that can be seen very clearly in the eyes of Bill Clinton and George Bush the Younger.  It says, I’ll put as many of my fellow Americans in jail as humanly possible in the name of freedom and you can’t stop me.
        You and I both know for a fact that if Clinton, Bush, jr. or Gore were visiting an old college buddy (like, Tommy Lee Jones, let’s say), and they knew they were alone, and the buddy lit up a joint, they’d either ignore it or join in.  It means absolutely nothing, and they and you and I all know it.  But change the stupid laws?  No way!  They might lose the vote of one asshole in the “Bible Belt” that gets drunk every weekend and beats his wife and kids.
        Worse than the handguns themselves, I think, is the defeatist attitude that has developed in America which says that nothing can possibly be done about it anymore.  Of course something can be done.  If the sale and manufacture of handguns was made illegal today, in ten years all the handguns would be out of the system and the police could turn theirs in, too.  In twenty years Americans would look back and think it was completely insane that a mere twenty years earlier there were more handguns than people in the U.S. and that crimes were committed at the point of a handgun every 5 seconds.
        In New Zealand they have democracy and freedom and no handguns.  The cops there don’t have guns and don’t need them.  This is not a pipe dream, it’s entirely real and works just fine.
        We Americans have become afraid of change.  The system’s busted, the laws don’t make sense and there’s nothing we can do about it.  We throw our hands in the air in resignation.
        Nor is it that if you banned handguns crime would go away.  Gangs don’t do drive-by shooting with pistols, they use automatic rifles, like: Uzis, M-16s, and AK-47s, all of which are already illegal.  But that’s no problem, everyone of these weapons can be purchased legally in a semi-automatic form that with a $1.95 worth of alterations can be turned right back into an automatic weapon.
        I am personally not interested in any place that has the slogan: “You can pry my weapon from my cold, dead hands.”  Call me a stick-in-the-mud, but it just doesn’t sound friendly.
        I will not believe for one second that the United States of America is so fucked up that we can no longer fix it.  I will not throw my hands in the air in resignation over handguns, crime or stupid drug laws.  Things can improve.  If I do my little bit and you do your little bit and we stand up for the right things, we can absolutely improve our lazy culture and our abhorrent crime and jail statistics.

Cowboys with their guns: John Ireland and Montgomery Clift in "Red River"
        There’s no way we should have the most people in jail of any country in the world.  If this is actually supposed to be “the land of the free,” why don’t we at least make an attempt at it.  Nor should this be the land of the frightened, nor the land of the cowed and humbled.  Let’s stand up straight and take our great country back from the idiots, the gun-slingin’ cowboys that want to get shit-faced and shoot up the saloon.  Sure you can get shit-faced, and you can most certainly challenge everybody in the bar to a fight, you just don’t get a pistol to back up your big mouth.
        Handguns do not equal freedom anymore than democracy equals capitalism.  As long as Americans continue to stupidly not differentiate between these things, the longer we will continue this cycle of blind ignorance we’re presently caught in.

-Josh Becker

 

 

[ Questions or Comments ]


BECKERFILMS SITE MENU

[ Main ]  [ Film & TV Work ]  [ Screenplays [ Old Stuff ]
[
Reviews ]  [ Articles, Essays & Stories ]  [ Ask the Director
[
Favorite Films ]  [ Scrapbook ]  [ Links (& Afterword) ]  [ Web Team ]

This site is the property of Josh Becker Copyright © 2003 Panoramic Pictures, All Rights Reserved.
Panoramic Pictures Logo