Icono-Crash

BY STEVEN RICHARDSON


Universal Pictures

I've been an Eastwood fan for over 40 years and his performance on the last night of the RNC has left me ambivalent. As a Democrat, I am happy because Eastwood embarrassed both himself and his party. As a fan of Eastwood and the characters that he made legendary I can't help, but see the contradictions of the man campaigning for a party as non-inclusive as the GOP.

In High Plains Drifter he was The Stanger, hired by townspeople to protect them from the three released convicted felons bent on revenge. He is told by town elders, anything he wants is his. Eastwood is his own man. A couple of scenes stick out to me.

In the general store there is an old Native American man with two small children. The storekeeper tells them to leave. The Stranger takes a stack of blankets and loads the old man down. He gives the children all the candy they can hold. The storekeeper can do nothing.

Later in the saloon he makes Mordecai, a little person who has been picked on and used for any undesirable job in town the mayor.

I don't think that Eastwood or the GOP realizes The Stranger stood up not for the townspeople, but for those who couldn't or weren't powerful enough to protect themselves. This is counter to the message and actions of the current Republican party.

In Unforgiven, his character Will Munny makes sure that Sally Two Trees, the widow of Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) gets a share of the bounty the men were after.

Seeing Eastwood's rambling improv with the chair reminds me of another icon who was past his prime. The over-sized suit looked like it had been picked out by Richard Nixon.

As a boy I heard my father, uncles and grandfathers rave about Willie Mays. They told me about the overhead catch he made off the bat of Vic Wertz in the Polo Grounds during the 1954 World Series. The Willie Mays I grew up watching who was 42 in 1973 stumbled around the outfield trying to catch fly balls he wouldn't have broke a sweat catching during his heyday. 

The Repubs need to realize that even though Eastwood is an icon, they need to re-watch some of his movies to see what The Stranger and Will Munny represent. He is more than just "Dirty Harry."

To close it out, I remember a story about the late Cary Grant. He was told by someone that every man wanted to be like Cary Grant. Grant replied, "So would I."