Clint Eastwood is my generations John Wayne. His character always firm, strong, and just. He played the hero we all wanted to be. Doing things we all thought about saying or acting out and he got away with it. Of course that is the stereo typical hero character we love to fantasize about. There is a unique portrayal about Clint’s work. He consistently captures a sense of righteousness. No matter the means to the end we agree with his methods even though they are often harsh and politically incorrect.
In the movie Gran Torino the war harden veteran exemplifies the don’t tread on me persona some of us remember our grandparents having. The persona that stands for I have fought for my country’s rights and liberties. He embodies the old school attitude I have sacrificed and I have paid my dues. He clings to the notion of entitlement that he is afforded to live in the country he fought for and has a say in how people around him act. The military man has a new strand of DNA. A strand that expresses the teaching his drill sergeant’s. The teaching that ingrains within him proper behavior, courtesy, and respect.
The dilemma is that society has changed. The differences between people have become widened. The acceptance between groups with different views is minimal and has caused a tense situation in our country. Some say the American dream is dead, but the American dream has always faced adversity. People like Clint Eastwood’s characters are type that exemplify American perseverance. These tough rugged types of people are survivors. They endure and overcome by simply getting back up when knocked down. These people do not give in to the temptation of crying poor me. They acknowledge life is tough and sh#t happens. The temptation of stealing, selling drugs, or being dishonest to cheat people out of their money never applies to them. The dilemma is our morals have tanked to new lows.
In high school my teachers told stories of students who got in trouble and couldn’t behave being shipped to the army. In that time period the military took deviants and turned them into soldiers. They weren’t getting out because of their behavior. They would only make it harder on themselves. The military converted the unlawful, misbehaved, wild youth into a person with understanding of sacrifice and hardship. Maybe these are the key ingredients to appreciation.
World War II and Korean veterans came from a time period in the United States when America was experiencing growth and opportunities. The advent of assembly lines and advances in factory technology created an environment which people dreamed of an opportunity to have a house, two car garage, and white picket fence. Those moral and ethics were passed to the next generation, but increasing population dilutes the previous generations traditions and belief systems. The counter culture revolution exhibited a major change in America.
The movement most remembered now for hippies, peace, love, and happiness was actually the first anti establishment movement. Once again different sides clashed with a growing anti war movement Vietnam veterans experienced a harsh welcome home. The counter culture viewed the military as yes men and slaves to the establishment not free to think for themselves. Honorable men and women were wrongly accused of being America’s assassins killing women and children. The counter culture did not take into account for the situation soldiers were put in and the choices they faced.
Men and women who have conviction and belief of tradition often look at these changes as a deterioration of the America. Clint Eastwood’s character in Gran Torino was complete opposite of embracing society’s changes. In the movie he made racial comments putting down gang members. He also befriended a foreign neighbor boy who had the attempted stealing from him. His character showed both the ruthlessness and compassion of humanity. He acted out in hatred towards the things he saw as wrong and criminal in a vigil anti way. Clint’s character held the belief of defending his life, liberty, and property with lethal force. Movie watchers cheered Clint on with his extreme portrayal of an American entitled to pull out a fire arm and stick it in the bad guys face.
The action of holding a person at gun point is a serious commitment. It means you are ready to take a life. A lot of consequences come with that action in reality. Whether the action be just or not it is bound to draw criticism and attention of law officers. It is always a scary thing when a person’s freedom is at stake and dependent on another human being to agree with their action. Where a person like Clint’s character may have been trained in the military to defend his person and property his instilled ideas of right and wrong may be disagreed with legally. On the opposite side of the spectrum there is a part of the population that believes carrying fire arms discourages crime. They believe armed citizens could minimize robbery, theft, mass shootings, and terrorism. People are easy to shoot when they are not shooting back. Once again the legal liability of that belief comes into play when a innocent bystander is killed because a citizen attempting to defend themself. That is were the establishment wants to be responsible for protecting people. Yet the truth is the authorities are not at every crime when it’s happening, but people are. Clint obviously portrays the gun toting citizen ready to stop terrible acts.
The problem with Grand Torino’s philosophy in general is people don’t stop at the issue being investigated. They dig through a persons life and they use things from the past against them. A situation may be completely just and legal, but the opposition to the incident hires a lawyer. The lawyer is paid to dig and paint a picture that wins their case no matter what the truth is. The prosecutor is looking for a win. Still we all have the urge to be Clint Eastwood, because Clint does what we want to do in a hostile situation.
The climate of the nation is volatile in present times. We have society challenging the nations police force. Terrorists commit shootings in the name of ISIS. Indigenous Americans are wanting to close borders to illegal immigrants. A liberal movement to disarm Americans is happening. These issues divide people and create contempt for the opposite side and it is growing. It is the type of thing that put the grimace looking frown on Clint Eastwood’s face in Gran Torino.
We will always have the person who doesn’t pull their weight in society. We will always have wars with other counties. The economy will always change from good to bad. Democrats and republicans will always disagree the majority of the time and we will always want to be Clint Eastwood.