Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hippies Get A Bum Rap Bill Jack

As a contemporary boho/lefty of course I would think so.  Hippies and mid-6o's to mid-70's culture in general get a bum rap.  (Either that or glorified as having invented rebellion and fun out of thin air, but that's another story.)  It was no radical break from American traditions that came before, quite the opposite.    And it is simply inaccurate to describe the flower children as hopeless utopian dreamers. They were in the main as perfectly well-versed in political theory, 'realism' and the art of the possible as anyone else.  

On the other hand, there was Billy Jack.

......................Yeah, the whole seven hours or so of three Billy Jack films committed to film are more or less like this, in fact generally worse.  No, no group of Native Americans have ever had themselves repeatedly injected with venom for inspirations sake.  You're smart people, I'm sure you knew that. 
 At any rate the White Indian Jesus seen above, Tom Laughlin, died last Thursday at the age of 82, still planning to get around to a new Billy Jack sequel  that would, in its own special way, deal with the War on Terror, police militarization in the drug war etc any day now. 

But though it is right and just that we despair the loss of a brother we should should despair not  the death of his work.  Steven Seagal has been making all the Billy Jack sequels fit to can for twenty five years now.  The spiritual parentage between Tom and Steve is clear in how both make action movies from a left-wing point of view: anti-corporate and anti-security state, instead of the more typically rightist  'punish bad guys and kill the foreign devils' bent of such film.  Seagal and Laughlin are also linked by a sympathetic but wincingly exoticized view of Native Americans (So Spiritual!  So close to the land!)  and most importantly by a hilariously earnest and wrong-headed messianic sense of self. 
Seagal's  "On Deadly Ground", is the film that betrays his celluloid paternity more than any other. In this famed career-killing opus Seagal saves the environment by firebombing an up & pumping refinery and invited to address the Alaska state legislature as a reward, which is of course the same favor those fine people would happily grant any other left-wing terrorist. 

Still, there's something about the tired look of a film still bleached by Southwestern sun that will always move my heart just a little bit more.  For me the original Godfather is the only dope that will ever truly do.  RIP half breed. 

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