RACISM AND REVISIONIST HISTORY — THREE BAD MEN: JOHN FORD, JOHN WAYNE, WARD BOND

Three Bad Men: John Ford, John Wayne, Ward Bond by Scott Allen Nollen

As big a fan of these three men as I am, there is a level of revisionist history that is impossible to simply accept.

I actually had to stop reading the book, at least for a while. It’s a temporary interruption I’m sure, but I needed to back off from Three Bad Men. I needed to take a few deep breaths and calm down before continuing.

This book chronicles the lives and friendships of John Ford, John Wayne and Ward Bond. Two great actors and one extraordinary director. It’s an interesting read. I have been reading, as is my habit, slowly, savoring. I was enjoying it.

Until I got to the section in which the author claims Ford used Stepin Fetchit and other minorities to “slyly mock America‘s racism“.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.jpg

That’s just not true. What I see — and have always seen — is the perpetuation of racism by Pappy. As much as I love John Ford’s westerns, there’s no escaping the racism in his films. They were still calling Woody Strode “boy” as late as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). Even considering his belated attempt to make some reparations with Cheyenne Autumn, it was much too little and way too late.

I’ll get back to the book in a while, when I have calmed down a bit. Right now, I’m sorry. I simply can’t continue reading it.

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7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy (An Insider’s Perspective)

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When I was a kid, I acted in a few movies.

It was generally a good experience, but every day I’m glad I wasn’t Olsen twins famous. Not many child stars make it out of Hollywood alive or sane, and at any given time there are at least three former ones having very public breakdowns.

But why does this happen?

#7. Their Parents Won’t Help Them …

I chose to start acting when I was 5. It was my decision, and my parents tried their hardest to discourage me. When I insisted, they allowed me to act, but were always very protective of me.

I saw many child actors who did not have that, and they were all miserable. Kids whose parents pushed them into acting often grow up to resent them. They never had a choice, and worse, they never had the chance to be a kid.

When one of my preteen co-stars didn’t seem that into acting, I asked him why he even bothered doing it. “For the money,” he said. I hadn’t considered that. My own money was an abstract concept: locked in a bank somewhere, to be used only after I turned 18. I was just acting because I liked it. But this kid was supporting his family.

This isn’t a new problem. Back in the 1930s, Jackie Coogan was not only the biggest child star in the world, but one of the biggest stars, period. The kid had $4 million (more than $48 million in today’s money) to his name, but when he turned 21, he found that his mother and manager/stepfather had spent almost all of it. Coogan sued his parents, and while he only got $126,000, he did get a law named after him. That’s a nice consolation prize, right?

The Coogan Law isn’t perfect, though: While it has long protected a kid’s right to a trust fund, it still only protects 15 percent of a child’s earnings. There are still lots of ways parents can misuse their kid’s money. And it’s easy for them to get away with it, because most kids don’t have the guts to take their own parents to court and scream about all the things they can’t handle (the truth, and so on).

The next time a former child star is in the news, look at the age at which he or she started performing. Then imagine making a life-changing decision at that age. Chances are good he or she wasn’t the one who made it.

#6. … or Their Parents Can’t Help Them

Even good, non-stage-parent parents can have trouble asserting authority over their kids. My parents, I think, did most things right. They didn’t always pick the greatest movies for me to be in, but they were supportive and responsible about money. But even they had to answer to a higher power.

When I was 7, I went to the première for the movie Nine Months. I don’t remember much about the movie beyond Hugh Grant stammering and some placenta jokes, but I do remember a red carpet reporter asking me my opinion about Hugh Grant getting busted for prostitution.

If he had been arrested for something like defacing a Lion King poster or stealing bouncy castles, I might have cared. But while I knew he’d been arrested, I didn’t understand what for and didn’t feel comfortable answering. My father called the station the next day to suggest that they, you know, not talk to a child about soliciting sex. But he was rebuffed, and the complaint was ignored. Even then, as a kid, I knew that parental power was gone.

When Miley Cyrus went through a series of scandals in 2010, one involving the scarier-than-pot-but-somehow-more-legal salvia, Billy Ray Cyrus went on record saying that he had very little control over his daughter anymore. Her Disney entourage had long since taken over. Even if he wasn’t telling the complete truth about his role in his daughter’s scandals, it was clear that he, the parent, was not in control.

#5. They Get Used to Love and Attention, and Then Lose It

The first week of my first movie, Mrs. Doubtfire, I got gifts from every cast member. When an interviewer asked me what I loved most about acting, I forgot all about the joy of becoming someone else on camera and said, “You get a lot of presents, sometimes!”

Combine the regular amount of free stuff celebrities get with all the presents people give kids just for being cute, and you’ve got a recipe for one spoiled-ass child. My parents tried to keep me grounded: They made me share a room with my sister, kept me in public elementary school, and encouraged me to think of acting as just a hobby. But I’m sure there were still times when I was an entitled little shit.

This tends to happen: It’s called the hedonic treadmill, which sounds like something 1950s sci-fi writers imagined we’d all have in our pod-houses by now, but actually means that even people who have the best of everything quickly become used to it. The thrill of new things and new experiences always wears off.

Adults know that infatuation is fleeting, but kids don’t understand this. A year in a kid’s life seems like an eternity, and they think anything happening now will happen forever. Years of adulation and money and things quickly become normal, and then, just as they get used to it all, they hit puberty — which is a serious job hazard when your job is being cute.

It’s basically a real-life version of Logan’s Run. A child actor who is no longer cute is no longer monetarily viable and is discarded. He or she is then replaced by someone younger and cuter, and fan bases accordingly forget that the previous object of affection ever existed.

Most of you reading this felt pretty disgusting and useless while you were going through puberty. But imagine that people you once relied on and trusted — as well as millions of people you’d never met, who had previously liked you — had told you then, “Yeah, it’s true. You are exactly as ugly and worthless as you feel.”

#4. They Have Been Sexually Exploited

Speaking of which, you know that one lucky asshole you grew up with who never seemed to go through an awkward age, at all? The child stars who make the most successful transitions tend to be those kinds of assholes: They were adorable kids, and now they’re beautiful adults. The rest typically disappear.

But it’s not always a smooth transition: To be a teen idol is to be vulnerable. Brooke Shields has said that being a sex object led her to feel like she wasn’t in control of her own body, and is one of the reasons she didn’t have sex until she was 22. Natalie Portman has said similar things.

And sometimes it gets violent: Former child stars Corey Feldman, Corey Haim, and Todd Bridges all went on record saying that they had been sexually assaulted by adult men when they were young, and that there were likely many more child molesters in Hollywood. Actress Rebecca Schaeffer was killed by a stalker after he saw her in bed with a male character in a film and denounced her as “another Hollywood whore.”

But even when it’s not violent, it’s not pleasant. When I was 12 years old, I made the mistake of looking myself up on the Internet. (I know not to do that now, unless I want to stay up all night imagining the kind of person who would replace my Wikipedia article with nothing but the word “poo.”) One of the things I found was a foot fetish website dedicated to child actresses.

Now, at the time, I thought this was hilarious. I was in seventh grade and couldn’t say the word “sex” with a straight face; fetishes were beyond me. I never told my parents because it seemed like too much of a joke, not a threat.

Then, two or three years ago, I was talking to a friend and casually mentioned the foot fetish thing. Her eyes went wide. “So, basically, you were on a child porn site?”

“Uh … I guess so.” I hadn’t thought about it like that. Suddenly it wasn’t as funny as I had once thought.

There was worse, both for me and for others. Like the Coogan Law, there are too many loopholes. If you ever need to convince someone not to get their kid into show business, inform them that it’s still legal in several places to Photoshop a child’s head onto a nude adult body. Sexual exploitation is just part of the package.

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

I was caught by surprise. A surprisingly perceptive and honest article.

See on www.cracked.com

 

Prompts for the Promptless: Episode 3 : Catch That Running Gag!

PromptlessEP3

Ball Gag lay in the dark at the bottom of the closet amidst the rubble of discarded sex toys. He fondly remembered the good old days when The Master and Mistress used him and all his friends to play exciting games every night. Sunk in nostalgia, Ball Gag remembered the crack of the whip, the moans, the screams, the foul language. Those were great days.

Then came the babies and the jobs. PTA and late hours at work. Master and Mistress were tired and busy and they no longer came to The Closet to play with all the toys.

Ball Gag wondered if he were actually getting rusty from disuse. The idea so appalled him, that he began to shiver, which made him rattle and set up a noisy clamor as the various chains, clamps, and other metal things banged against one another. Ball Gag tried to move and surprised himself.

“I can move!” he thought. “How can I do this?”

He realized — to his amazement — he had eyes and could see. From his little round body, itty bitty arms and teeny tiny legs clothed in pointy shoes had sprouted.

“FREEDOM!” he cried and began to throw himself at the closet door. It gave way easily and he found himself in the master bedroom. Light streamed in from the windows, covered by … what? Fluffy lace?

Repelled by the sight of so much light and fluff, Ball Gag … at first hesitantly, then with more sureness in his steps … marched to the hallway.  His leather straps scraped along the floor, but apparently no one was home to hear the racket. He tucked up his tiny arms and legs and rolled clackety-clack down the stairs, clambered out the mail slot and onto the front walk.

FREEDOM!” he screamed again and began to run.

That was when the cops spotted him.

“Catch him!” they cried, talking to each other and calling into the precinct on their radios. “It’s a running gag!!”

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Daily Prompt: Freedom of Facebook – Serendipity’s my little world

I believe in freedom. I don’t just say that. I mean it. I believe everyone has the right to express his or her opinion, no matter how uninformed or stupid.

I do not believe our society should allow — or worse, encourage — the spewing of hate in public. Facebook has become the poster child for bigots, supporting the vicious outpourings of ignorant and mean-spirited people. When I first signed up for Facebook, there was much on it in which I was uninterested, but there were also many people expressing reasonable opinions, telling stories of their lives and the lives of others. It was a way to link up with people I hadn’t seen in years, find out what was going on in lives being lived far away. It was fun.

Freedom is meant to be a good thing, not all ugliness and hatred.
Freedom is meant to be a good thing, not all ugliness and hatred.

Then it changed. The 2012 Presidential election brought out the worst in many people. Diatribes and postings full of hate and threats (implied and explicit) of violence. I started blocking people. It made my stomach churn and still does. There is no room in my personal space for bigots, racists and hate-mongers. I frankly don’t care whether or not they have a legal right to spread their vicious invective. There is, above all, a thing we call “right and wrong” … and that stuff is wrong by any standards. Worse, the proliferation of this ugliness affects how the world perceives us — in a very negative way. It polarizes dialogue and keeps people and parties in their separate corners. You cannot have a functional body politic if people cannot speak to each other. If we hate everyone who is different from us, we don’t see them as human. That’s a terrible thing. I don’t see anything good coming of this.

My blog is my world. I own it. I have control over it. I do not allow argument for argument’s sake. The trolls will never control my website. I do not allow personal attacks of any kind and the mere hint of racism will get that person banned forever. I may not be able to control Facebook, but I can control this space and I do.

My opinion of Facebook? It is what it is, the populist bulletin board for the world. I go there to play a few mindless games and see what some of my friends (the real ones) are doing. See who has posted pictures of family, babies, friends, dogs and all that stuff. I cross-post my blog to Facebook, so technically I guess I’m considered active, though I very rarely post anything directly there.

It’s a good place to go and find out what people are yelling about these days, what the current hot-button issues are. What kind of craziness is currently afflicting our world. The people who rant on Facebook would no doubt rant somewhere else if they didn’t have Facebook so perhaps it’s better that they have it — a public venue — than to be forced into the dark corners where they would fester and become even more evil than they already are, though that is hard to imagine.

Should Facebook enforce their own guidelines? They should. Morally and ethically, they should. They aren’t strict guidelines and are only likely to weed out the most extreme of their clients.

Will they? I doubt it. They’ve gotten too big. They lack the personnel to monitor their site. It’s become a monster. I suspect eventually it will self-destruct.

In the meantime, it’s the place where the crazies hang out. Like wild dogs, maybe they will eat each other and leave the rest of us alone.

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