|Why Are They Famous?
Moses is Dead: How We Gonna Get to the Promiseland Now?
By Jabulani Leffall
Apr 14, 2008
This blolumnist is more left of center than otherwise but there's two points I want to make before I hit ya'll with the normal wickedness.
It was wrong of Michael Moore to leave Charlton Heston's house on a national film and put into national consciousness the image of an cantankerous old white man who didn't give a damn about what firearms have done to destroy people.
The man's life was so much more than that and a little crafty editing made him look like a gun nut, telling you to leave his Azelas alone lest he gets to dumping caps off in that a%$!.
The next line of conjecture praises the man. His death is the death of many ideals, whether you believe in them or not, of post-war, post industrial America.
Heston's death is a blow to the sensibilities mid-century American white everymen everywhere but also to that notion that we can work, doing the same thing for thirty years and retire in great esteem only to not go gently into that good night with a respectable modicum of public service and activism. Sure it's bound to happen with some individuals but the average person getting into any profession in unlikely to be doing the same thing in ten years much less 60 years.
Heston was one of the biggest box-office draws of the 1950s, '60s and '70s, often playing legendary leaders or ordinary men thrown into heroic struggles something that America was built on. Nowadays such situations seem manufactured and staged, in real life and on screen.
We can't all be perfect and who exemplified this better than Heston? But for better or worse, he's gone and so, seemingly, is that manifest destiny frontiersman ideal that his characters espoused and America at its best seemed live up to around the world. By manifest destiny I don't mean genocide and "Trail of Tears," or taking peoples land so that they wait 70 years to build casinos as consolation.
And I'm not sentimental or nostalgic enough to go back to the days when they called black men "cookie" and "boy" or when a Chinese man was called a "Chinamen" but somehow his passing coincides with a dissipation of our great American gravitas, that feeling of being against all odds and not going blindly and stubbornly and slowly to your dubious demise.
Beyond a little conservation, a better educational system, less wanton consumerism, we need more guys like this to balance a "real talk," discourse in America not just guys who play them on TV. RIP man.
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