If there was a saving Grace to those days spent in Cuba between the advent of la puta revolución and the bittersweet day of our departure, it was that we were one of the few houses in our block who actually owned a working television.
We were gusanos, but that old Zenith B&W set made us very popular worms in our neighborhood.
Even in those days of State-controlled broadcasts, with Cuban television’s version of El Zorro sounding way more Socialist than a pre-Lost in Space Guy Williams ever did, and where the prophetic irony of a show with a title like Sán Nicolás Del Peladero was lost in the time prior to the official kickoff of Castro’s “Periodo Especial”, otherwise known as the “Cuban Gatocide” as multitudes of domestic cats mysteriously disappeared from the Island, that TV was a lifeline to sanity and a way to remind ourselves that there was a world outside the shrinking walls of fear and distrust in Castro’s Cuba.
A better world, somewhere, out there.
I remember sitting down nightly to enjoy the few hours of entertainment programming sandwiched between the endless stream of propaganda and government directives (Ahorre agua!) that constituted Cuban television programming in the mid 1960’s; we seldom went out at night those days. Maybe my parents were being cautious as every gusano lived with the fear of random revolutionary acts of retaliation, even back then, before things got worse, or maybe there just weren’t a whole lot of things to do at night for a young family in Cuba after the fall.
So, we’d eat dinner, clean up, and sit on the couch under the wide louvered window in our living room ready for the night’s entertainment. We had two such windows in our apartment that more than made up for the lack of air conditioning with an ever present breeze. One window faced the bay in the distance, and the other overlooked a walkway between our apartment building and the house next door. The walkway was bordered by a concrete wall…un muro, and as soon as we turned on our set that muro was immediately covered with the neighborhood kids, silently watching the shows over our shoulders. I guess that old muro would be the Gonzalez family theater’s balcony.
We all sat there, the gusanos and the neighborhood kids, watching TV and hoping for an old American flick to come on.
There were old Cagney flicks (Made it Ma! Top of the world!), as well as films from starts with exotic names like Rooney, Flynn, Stewart and Ladd, and as we sat there and watched these films, with the country literally falling apart all around us, there was one thing we knew beyond the shadow of a doubt because we saw it in the movies we watched.
To the North of us, there was a land where the good guys always won, a land where the bad guys didn’t stand a chance, and where for every Jack Wilson there were two Joe Starretts and a Shane to stand up to them.
And good guys always wore white hats.
That’s what we knew then…we knew this about the land to the North, and the thought of a nation populated by white hat wearing good guys who would defend their homes, their families, and their towns against any number of black hat-wearing bad guys, kept hope alive in the hearts and minds of that little band of gusanos watching an old Zenith black and white TV set in those Havana nights of so very long ago.
Something has happened since then to that land, to that culture and to Hollywood.
Sometime between “Shane” and “Thelma and Louise”, between “I Love Lucy” and “Sons of Anarchy” we lost sight of the good guys, and the nation that believed in principles became a nation that gorged itself in amoral self indulgence and wanton violence.
And I blame Hollywood for a lot of it.
Sexual content for the sake of sexual content and gratuitous violence became the norm. Bad guys became heroes, the Joe Starretts of the world became victims, and we were convinced that people were defenseless in the face of evil.
So much so that now the guys in white hats have been replaced by superheroes, wizards and noble robots from other galaxies. A message so subtle yet so strikingly clear that it is hard to miss: we’re not enough to handle threats to our existence. We need a greater power to protect us.
The culture of violence and lack of respect for human life promoted by Hollywood has permeated every aspect of our lives, and Hollywood is the one place in the US where mindless violence is rewarded, even if it is only the realistic portrayal of gratuitous violence.
Sit with your kids and play a few minutes of Grand Theft Auto if you don’t believe me, or try to keep track of how many people Liam Neeson kills in Taken 2.
We have been systematically desensitized to violence and gore as violence and gore became movie themes in and of themselves. Little by little, as a nation, whether in our choices at the box office or in our support of abortion as a “right”, we lost sight of the worth of life.
We can hold an honest debate on whether it was Hollywood that changed the culture, or whether it was the changes in the culture that drove Hollywood’s standards into the gutter, but there’s little to debate on whether or not Hollywood’s influence on society has been largely negative.
So the sight of self-aggrandizing, self-indulging Hollywood personalities demanding that “something be done” and that we should “demand a plan” just set me off.
The absolute insulting irony of being prodded to “demand a plan” by these effete acting school trendies with their feigned accents and armed bodyguards was a bit more than I could bear, but then I saw this:
Yeah…I got a plan.
My plan is that you leave me to defend my home, my family, and my country, while you all get on your knees and apologize to all the victims of the senseless, gratuitous violence and immorality that you make millions promoting.
My plan is to raise my kids to understand that your social relevance is as real as those Marvel superheroes that you play on the big screen.
My plan is to teach my kids to defend themselves, and by extent their families from not only the morally corrupted and the psychopaths in this world, but from their enablers as well.
My plan is to make sure that my children understand who and what makes a person a role model, and that neither you, or the politicians that you support are it.
My plan is to raise men, not “low information voters”.
My plan is to bring back those white hat days of old, days when bad guys got their asses kicked at the end of the movie.
So, you think I should demand a plan?
Yeah well, I got your plan right here.