Friday, January 24, 2020

Wokeness Killed My Favorite Movie

On the off chance you don't know what "wokeness" is, it's viewing the world through the lens of whatever is currently deemed politically correct. And being "woke" killed my appreciation for one of my favorite movies, The Quiet Man starring John Wayne. It's a saccharine homage to Ireland in which Wayne plays an Irish-American boxer who killed a man in the ring and out of guilt, decides to return to his ancestral homeland and start over. The screenplay lards on the clich├ęs so thick that it's a wonder that a real Irishman didn't lob a firebomb onto the set in protest. I realized those shortcomings the first time I saw the movie but gave it a pass because why let reality interfere with a good tale? If nothing else, what I most admire about the Irish is the way they let everyone mangle their heritage and customs, but buy them a pint and they shrug it off. The rest of us should live by their example. In The Quiet Man, Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne play their roles in a typical romance-movie template of cold-warm-cold-warmer-colder-hot-coldest-hotter-happily ever after. For me, the wokeness part comes in when after a spat, O'Hara locks the door of her bedroom. Wayne kicks it open, demonstrating that he will not allow anything to come between them. When he did that, I immediately thought of "Domestic violence. He's off to jail." The movie had plenty of other period tropes that are now painfully uncomfortable to watch.

A couple of TV shows that trigger wokeness are Cheers and Frasier. Both sit-coms depend on double entendres, sexual innuendo, and outright come-ons that would get you hustled to HR and then right onto the street. What blunts the offense are the sharp put-downs and physical reprisals, though I would not suggest acting this way in any professional setting. At least, not without legal representation.

The one author who most activates my personal "wokeness" meter is John D MacDonald. As a teenager I loved his Travis McGee series but on a recent revisit, his women characters are decidedly milquetoast. On the other hand, Mickey Spillane would today be pilloried for his lack of political correctness, though at the time, he was his own brand of woke. Plus his women characters tend to be as dangerous as the men and that trumps any level of wokeness. Sometimes, you just gotta go with the flow.

1 comment:

Donis Casey said...

I have the same wokeness problem. When I was young, oh, so long ago, I just dealt with being hit upon and dismissed and occasionally belittled because that's just the way it was, so seeing the same thing portrayed in movies didn't surprise me. Now seeing it is like being hit in the face. I'm very aware of older attitudes because I write a historical series, and I try hard not to sugar-coat either the way it was or the way it made one feel to be on the receiving end of it. p.s. when I see The Quiet Man I'm still torn. I like it and am pissed off about it at the same time.