Monday, June 20, 2005

Listen children to a story, that was written long ago

In the NYTimes today:

It has been more than 30 years, but Billy Jack is still plenty ticked off.

. . .

Now the man who created and personified Billy Jack, Tom Laughlin - the writer, director, producer and actor - is determined to take on the establishment again, and his concerns are not so terribly different. Mr. Laughlin (and therefore Billy Jack) is angry about the war in Iraq and about the influence of big business in politics. And he still has a thing for the nuclear power industry.

. . .

"We the people have no representative of any kind," he continued. "It's now the multinationals. They've taken over. It's no different than the 70's, but it's gotten worse. And if you use words like 'impeachment' or 'fascist' you're a nut on a soapbox."

So Mr. Laughlin and Ms. Taylor are planning to bring their characters back to the big screen with a new $12 million sequel, raising money from individuals just as they did to make their films three decades ago.

Kids, I remember that movie. In the heady and naive times of the late '60s and early '70s, films like "Billy Jack" and "Easy Rider" resonated with progressives and maturing hippies of the times.

"Billy Jack" was a statement, it was "Blows Against The Empire," it was MLKing with an attitude. "We're really pacifists, but we'll fight for what we believe is right if you push us." It appealed to those of us who were less Zen-like. While inclined to turn the other cheek, we still felt an outrage about the atrocities of the times: the civil rights movement, Viet Nam, Native American issues, these were all topics on every campus and in every cofffee house. And we were getting more pissed off by the day.

Now, 34 years later, we find the political climate similar. Iraq, as filtered through the Downing Street documents is far worse than Viet Nam, in that there was no crisis there. While a genuine civil war was taking place in that troubled corner of Southeast Asia, the only thing compelling about Iraq, aside from the obvious cruelty of Saddam (as aided by the arms and munitions sold to him by Reagan), was a petulant and shallow boy trying to either make his Daddy proud, or prove that he was a better man than his Dad. How sad, how troubled, how trivial.

In this new film, they say, they will take on social scourges like drugs, and power players like the religious right. They say they will also outline a way to end the current war and launch a political campaign for a third-party presidential candidate.

While I appreciate the sincerity of their convictions, I don't really think the third-party idea is going anywhere soon. Yes the Democrats are wishy-washy and craven: see Biden (R-MBNA) and Lieberman (R-DLC). But has anyone from a different vector helped at all? (See: Ralph).

And this is interesting:

" 'Billy Jack' had a huge impact on me," said Gavin Polone, a television producer who made "Revelations," on NBC this past season, and who approached Mr. Laughlin years ago about making a sequel to his trademark film. But, he said, Mr. Laughlin was unwilling to work within the Hollywood system, and his new project would probably suffer as a result.

Was that before or after you inhaled the LaHaye rants that seem to be the inspiration for "Revelations?" That Dominionist crap should be titled "Revoltings."

Anyway, God bless you, Tom and Delores, for putting your money where your heart is.

"On the bloody morning after one tin soldier rides away"