by Max Myers

The first time I saw Clint Eastwood was in a movie when I was a kid. I can’t remember which one, I just remember his eyes — cold, blue, intense. The Eastwood squint. As I grew up, I discovered who this iconic American was. You can’t just call him an actor. He’s a national treasure who sadly is reaching the end of the line.

clint4Clint Eastwood is part of the dying breed. He grew up in an era when a man could handle his business. Not have to be concerned with lawsuits and angry words being turned into, ‘an act of terrorism.’ Oh, you don’t know about this? If some idiot cut you off, or behaved badly in a bar, or insulted your lady, or did something to earn your ire, then it used to be an oft-uttered phrase by most men and a few ladies I’ve known. Namely this, “Hey, fuck you pal, I’m gonna fuckin’ kill ya.” Everyone knew that it was an empty threat, the death part, that is, but it’s what people said when they got pissed and were ready to throw joints – fight.

clint5Yes, yes, before your roll your eyes, here are a few simple truths in this otherwise PC-infected world. You can’t legislate peace and harmony. It has to come from an evolved humanity. As more and more draconian laws are passed, we are witnessing the emasculation of men. Yeah, that’s right, legal castration. You can’t deny what lives innately in many – if not most — males. The primal urge to defend one’s family, friends and homestead. To correct injustice.

That’s what cops are for, you say? Bollox, say I. Sure, in a perfect world, the law should be allowed to do their job and one should never, ever take the law into one’s own hands. I get that and fully support it. But that’s just not always practical and in case you haven’t checked lately, the world is far from perfect.

clint3You see, there’s a silent, primordial battle that constantly takes place between males of any age. You can be sitting in your car, stuck in traffic and suddenly you lock eyes with some other dude. The stare-down begins. Or you might be walking down the sidewalk and both you and the other guy are trying to figure out who is going to move to one side, or you could be in a queue in a restaurant and the numb-nuts behind you gets too close, invades your personal space, or you could be in a bar, or, well, you get the picture. It’s innate. It’s 100% real and it’s part of the human psyche. Women do the same thing, but their weapons are mostly who has the bigger breasts, the nicer hair, the more shapely legs, the prettier smile. Occasionally they get to tussling, but not often.

“Go ahead, punk, make my day.”

clint2Does violence suck? Of course it does. But you’ve got to admit that when Dirty Harry blows away some miscreant asshole, or saves someone, or rights a wrong, that you, like me, cheered your head off. Same with Manco in the Spaghetti Western trilogy, or the Outlaw Josey Wales, or pick whichever Western you loved and if you didn’t, then keep it to yourself. Everyone, everyone, has had the urge, at some point in their life, to knock the crap out of some idiot, or — and you can deny this all you want — but we both know that all of us have had the desire to kill some vile miscreant. Of course most of us would never follow up on that urge, but the point is that it lives in all of us. Inconvenient, eh, the innate truth of humanity?

In today’s society, we’re raising a generation of un-heroic kids. Yes, there’s always exceptions, but now kids are rewarded with a trophy for just playing their particular sport, not if their team won. What does that tell a kid?

“Hey, Tommy, you did great!”

“I did?”

clint7“Yeah, sure.”

“Why? We didn’t win. They did.”

“But you played.”

“But I didn’t kick the winning goal, Truck did.”

“You played!”

“But…”

“…YOU PLAYED!”

Yippee. Hip-hip-hoo-bloody-ray. How about we reward kids for actually achieving something? Now let’s add, ‘conflict resolution’ to the pot. Mikey and Billy get into a beef. Instead of letting them sort it out for themselves, the teacher, the psychologist, the headmistress, the school board, the police and the city council all become part of the debate. I grew up in an era, the sixties, when if you behaved like an asshole, you stood a really good chance of getting knocked on your ass.

“Wait, you mean if I behave like a big mouth prat, this could happen again?”

“Yep, it sure could buddy.”

“Then maybe I shouldn’t behave that way.”

Lesson learned.

clint6Or the madness now of no parental control allowed. I, 100%, don’t believe in hitting kids. It happened to me, not fun. However, with the way the laws are now, parents can’t even use the threat of it as the Sword of Damocles, without running the risk of police intervention. So now kids can virtually do anything that want, because they know that there’s nothing the parents can do about it.

“Wait ‘til your father gets home!”

Remember that one? Yeah, me too only now it’s child abuse. Seriously? Madness.

You might be wondering what all this has to do with the Clint Eastwood. If you really are asking that question, then you’re exactly the person this post is aimed at.

 

24 Responses to The Good, The Bad and the Eastwood

  1. Liselasalle says:

    No wonder Clint Eastwood has become such an icon over the years. It’s not for being a Republican or talking to an empty chair but for being Dirty Harry and saying it like it is. Make my day and I am not going to say please. A dying breed.
    In the Gran Torino, he takes down the whole neighborhood without filing a report first.
    Nowadays you have to ask permission to disagree with someone and can’t defend your honor without the threat of legal intervention.

    And the stare-down is here to stay.

    Really enjoyed the article!

    • Max Myers says:

      Thanks, Lise and actually, Gran Torino felt like Dirty Harry was saying goodbye, which, needless to say, made me very sad at his conformation of a dying era.

    • Albie Young-Pabon says:

      Where I lived and grew up was a place and a time when being Black held too few privileges. We had a lot of Dirty Harrys back then. The last time I visited home, there were still plenty of cops and others who meant it when they said, “Make my Day.” It didn’t take much.

      Conflict resolution is still a skill we should all be required to master. Thankfully, my parents, teachers, & neighbors all taught us some valuable lessons in this area.

      • PatrickHMoore says:

        Albie,

        You make a very good point. There is no doubt that aggressive cops with hair-trigger temper and a bad attitude are a serious and ongoing problem. Plus, as always, they no doubt single out the poor and the minorities. I personally believe that the author of the post overstates the case. On the other hand, the PC-brain police leave a lot to be desired. As usual, the answer — I think –lies somewhere in between.

        In an improved America, cops wouldn’t even carry guns.

        I think the author of the post is using the notion of the Dirty Harry figure symbolically, as someone who will not take crap. Nothing the author personally as I do, I do not believe that he is at all fond of cops.

        Patrick

        • Albie Young-Pabon says:

          Mostly, I just play the Devil’s Advocate for I have really neat stories of cops from the same era and have friends married to cops. Clint Eastwood was always a favorite beginning with the Spaghetti Westerns (The Good, The Bad & The Ugly). Then Dirty Harry came upon the scene with all of his flaws and I, like so many others, admired him regardless.

          In reality, where we are remiss is that we don’t pre-filter the candidates for police, sheriffs & their deputies for tendencies to be violent or ability to learn discerning skills necessary for their efficiency to Protect and Serve.

          You are a wise and judicious researcher and writer of stories of the crimes, the criminals and the law enforcement and CJ system. You do it well, my friend.

          • PatrickHMoore says:

            THX, Albie. I appreciate the compliment especially since it comes from you.

            There’s a whole other level to the discussion of the Eastwood syndrome. He triggers a mythic or archetypal part of our pysches which is why we identify with his characters so strongly even though he’s probably not the guy we would want to drink a beer and gab with. Too nerve-wracking — like the “biker” who’s an interesting character but keeps you on edge because you never know when he’s going to “go off.”

  2. randy lacey says:

    MAX, you have a wonderful way to make words come to life and make other’s feel the story as it should be felt. BRAVO

  3. BJW Nashe says:

    Cool post. Now I feel like kicking somebody’s ass… I feel like kicking Clint Eastwood’s ass. He’s very old now; I think I could take him.

  4. Bobby Lee says:

    I get what you’re driving at Max. We are letting others take away our ability to stand up for one’s self. Knowing you personally, I know you are not advocating violence, yet, there’s no doubt, some who read this will not get that.

    This insidious “let some one else deal with my problems” attitude you point out is everywhere. People who wish to deal directly with others to solve “issues” are being overrun by those who believe they should be able to use the law or some other “rule upholding” body as proxies for their complaints/issues, remaining anonymous in the background. It’s so bad there are even laws/rules popping up that discourage individuals from just “handling things.” It drives me crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m also NOT advocating violence. However, working things out directly has fallen so out of favor. Eh, let the cops handle it. The Homeowners Association will take care of this. Call the XYZ government agency and make this their problem. Sigh, it’s mind-numbing how many “rules” there are in our so-called evolved, modern society and it seems there are plenty of organizations popping up who are more than happy to enforce them. I, for one, would prefer a “Live and Let Live” approach. I can’t speak with an fully informed opinion on the state of things in other countries, but, here in the US we’ve allowed so many “whiners” to have their way, I feel we’re lost. “Well, he/she can’t do that because it annoys/offends/disturbs/upsets me so therefore, we need to create a RULE that can be enforced by someone else on my behalf, anonymously, of course, that PUNISHES those who do not obey, forcing them into compliance with the way I see the world.”

    Clint would never have stood for it.

  5. Susan Stec says:

    I enjoyed the post, and although I strongly disagree with a blaintant disregard for a controlled resolution, I can also see professional confidence stripped by misdirected protical. I think if I were an officer today, I’d have way too many ‘what ifs’ to weigh before taking an action that could save a life. So although there were parts of this article that had a pretty high cringe factor, I get it. Max just used a sledge hammer to drive his point home. Kinda like ole Dirty Harry:)

    • PatrickHMoore says:

      Good response, Susan. I think Max was pushing the envelope to make the point that our society has devolved into a bunch of nervous nellies stripped of confidence and real self-esteem. But as the moderator I tend to give our contributors great latitude. Everyone is welcome to disagree.

      All Things Crime Blog may not always be right, but we are brave. I believe we have a post coming up soon in which Pitchforks responds to “The Eastwood.”

    • Max Myers says:

      Susan, you can’t legislate peace and harmony. It has to come from an evolved humanity – plus, conflict resolution works great, in the classroom or with your kids in the safety of your home. It doesn’t in the street. However, I try, very hard, to see the woman’s perspective, even if it’s mostly unrealistic.

  6. Pitchforks says:

    Max, I started to ruminate on your funny article last night and it turned into

    From Knuckle-Dusters to Whole-Meal Scones: The Rise and Fall of the British Yobbo

    Thanks for the inspiration!!

  7. Mary` Brown says:

    Wonderful, thought provoking article, Max. I cannot imagine why it took me so long to find it!!!

    I often wonder what this generation of young men will be like when they grow up. Will they be so hamstrung by political correctness that they have no “line in the sand,” so to speak, no boundary that someone had better not cross or else?

    I grew up in that time and place where a man was expected to defend his wife, his sisters, his daughters, his possessions and his space, and I was married for 43 years to a man who lived that way. He was not aggressive, not a bully, he had more compassion for people than anyone I ever knew, but if someone bumped me, or one of our daughters,rudely in a crowd and didn’t bother to stop and say “sorry,” my husband would instantly make him sorry. He was a true man, and I am seeing fewer and fewer of those.

    I loved all of Clint Eastwood’s movies, loved the quiet strength, the boundaries he presented, and his ability to cut through the garbage. I always believed that he was, in real life, very much the character he portrayed in movies, and like you, Gran Torino made me so sad, for I saw a man saying goodbye to a way of life, not just to life itself, but to a way of life.

    Thanks for reminding me of this wonderful man that I’ve loved ever since Rowdy on Rawhide. He really has no match, does he?

    • Max Myers says:

      Thanks, Mary and no, he has no match. I have no idea what’s going to happen to millennials and the generation behind them, so choked with the cult of PC that they’re a generation of mostly candy asses. Interestingly, some that I’ve spoken to are also disgusted by how insane political correctness has now taken the truth out of society, art, life. I’m so damn glad that I grew up in the boomer generation when you stood up and were counted. As someone said to Tom Selleck in that great movie, An Innocent Man, “You ain’t gotta stand tall, but you’ve gotta stand up.” So true then. So true now.

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