Daddy didn’t hunt. He didn’t fish either. He didn’t care much for football. Or baseball or basketball, for that matter. But what he did care about was being able to dig holes in the ground deeper, faster and for less money than anybody else. And in Texas during his adult life, that was a pretty good thing to be able to do, seeing as how so many holes needed to be dug.
So here I am—can’t dig a hole in the ground with a shovel, much less a drill bit. And I’ve never fired a gun. Having spent my life inside the Texas gun culture but never having participated in it is, for me, like going to a sushi place. I don’t eat the stuff and can’t understand why anybody else does.
Recently, I’ve thought about going to a firing range (if that’s what you call them) to see how it feels. After all, it worked for Annette Bening in American Beauty. She really loved shooting her gun. It just begs the question, “What’s it like?”
That’s exactly what Faye Dunaway asked Warren Beatty in Bonnie and Clyde about armed robbery, taunting him until he pulls out his “gun” and shows it to her. I could describe what happens in the next 15 seconds of screen time, but I’ll restrain myself to saying that Ms. Dunaway’s hand creeping up the barrel of Mr. Beatty’s revolver explains more about “gun crazy” than anything else I’ve seen or read.
Now in the wake of the Parkland killings—let’s not call them shootings, that being something done on an English estate in 1913—we may have a new movement with its own hashtag. #NeverAgain joins #MeToo, #TimesUp, and #BlackLivesMatter as passwords to social media activism.
I wish I could say something must be done, but I can’t say that. Nothing has been done in all these years because the politicians with the collective power to do something to change the status quo won’t do so until it becomes necessary politically.
So it’s my hope that enough people are coming together, through anger and fear, to make change a political necessity. The stories of the victims, both living and dead, need to be told. (Hollywood should play a big role here.) And those who come forward to lead need the stamina and the strategy to keep the movement going forward, and the supporters should be unwavering.
Back to the movies. In 1950, the movie version of Annie Get Your Gun had its premiere. Despite Betty Hutton’s cloying performance as the title character, it went on to win an Academy Award for Best Music Scoring of a Musical Picture (that was back when Hollywood made a lot of musical pictures). But the better “gun” movie of 1950 was a little gem called Gun Crazy.
This story of a gun obsessed married couple on a crime spree shows up on Turner Classic Movies every now and then, and it foreshadows Bonnie and Clyde. Its release poster screeched, “Thrill Crazy…Kill Crazy…Gun Crazy.”
And here we are—nearly seventy years later. Slow on the uptake, wouldn’t you say?
And just one more thing. I had to add “Redux” to the title of this column as I wrote a column less than two years ago called “Gun Crazy” after the killings in Orlando. Lord, please don’t let me need to title a future column “Gun Crazy Still.”