Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pa Cartwright, the Werewolf Edition

I think I have determined what is to be the ultimate gauge of reaching that magical ‘age of maturity’. I think... noooo, I am pretty sure, it’s that point when you say ‘Oh please, not another vampire book!’

I find myself yearning for something different, something without bloodsucking vampires or werewolves. I want to see heroes and villains who do not have to spend a chapter trimming the hair from between their toes, or who actually sit down to a real meal. Do we need vampire sex to keep us entertained? Seriously, what is going to top that?

It makes me sad that my children can’t name a good western movie. They look at me as if I am from another planet if I mention Zane Grey or Max Brand, and they believe that Louis L’Amour writes... gasp!... romance. What was wrong with a western? No, they weren’t particularly erudite, but come on... look at the books that are gushed over right now and tell me they are about smart writing, then do it with a straight face.

In essence, wasn't Cpt. Kirk just Pa Cartwright in weird clothes?
Perhaps we need to recreate the genre. I mean, they used six shooters. *insert  facecious eye roll here* They had names like Festus, and Marshall Dillon and Miss Kitty. Perhaps we need to put the Cartwright boys on Harleys instead of horses, arm them with AK’s, have them sleeping in coffins at the ole Ponderosa. Maybe we need to have the women WANT to be tied to the tracks, instead of screamig for help. The classic westerns were perhaps a bit hokey, but they taught us about enjoyment in simplicity, gave us contentment that good will triumph over evil. Caring about each other was good, helping without there being anything in it to benefit was better, lying was not cool, and people used reason, logic and respect instead of guns and ninja kicks to solve every problem. They allowed us to watch, or read, then go to bed without having nightmares filled with blood and guts and eyes that wear really strange contacts.

It feels sometimes like we try to recreate the past, or maybe just ignore it. The truth of the matter is, as any person who has researched a family tree can tell you, there are some amazing, wonderful, brave, inspired stories from that time, and those people ARE a part of us. They are not just pictures on a website or old yellow newspapers in boxes tucked in cobwebbed corners of attics; they are real stories of the stock from which we have sprung. Like all things ‘old’, we want to disown it, hide it, cover it over with lasers and tazers and flying surfboards of doom. We don’t need to put Lash Larue on Survivor island (although, I have to say, he would probably kick some serious butt there). We don’t have to create stories of people who suck blood for kicks.

When you come down to it, each of us, born on North American soil, has a story that stems back to that time. Westerns are the stories of our parents, our grandparents, our ancestors ten-times removed. Believe me, when you consider the hardships they overcame, the progress they made, the gifts that they gave (including each of us), they were pretty amazing people. The women worked, damned hard, at birthing babies, hoeing gardens, cleaning dirt floors, and taking care of everything that came along. They could handle a gun as easily as a broom or a team of horses in harness, didn’t take bullshit from men, and certainly didn’t ‘need’ a vampire man or a business man to prove their self-worth. They would scoff at the weak women in Twilight, and would find the women of Fifty Shades of Grey to be nothing but pathetic.

There has always been a desire in human kind to reach for the future, to have some grasp on what is to come, speculating on the beyond and creating it as we would like it to be. Granted, now it comes with more blood, more evil (because apparently people throughout history have not been evil or cruel enough), but it’s still that same quest that was started by the likes of Gene Roddenberry and Isaac Asimov. There is much, however, in embracing our roots, celebrating where we came from, acknowledging that while they weren’t battling vampires (well, with the exception, apparently, of Abe Lincoln, who I mistakenly found out this summer was a vampire slayer), they were battling the everyday hardships of life, battles that should not be forgotten.  There would be gold in them thar pages, if only we would let them be seen.

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