Monday, July 21, 2008

I Might Not Have Looked Close Enough

Recently, I wrote a loving homage to Charlton Heston. In this writing, I opined that Charlton Heston was an expert at cheesy lines in movies and that I found his political stances strange given his body of work in film. I still stand by my view of his acting style in many movies: way over the top to the point of silliness sometimes. Still, he did the cheese so well and he was a powerful film personality with an impressive body of work. My second rumination was that I found it "strange that a guy who played so many roles portraying a struggle against an oppressive state would become such a staunch conservative after what conservatism has come to stand for politically in the past decade."

Clarification #1: I don't believe conservatism is an inherently bad thing; conservative (or liberal) governments that make a practice of removing rights granted to the populace make for an oppressive state. Movies like Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, Touch of Evil, and even The Ten Commandments are some examples of the indomitable Mr. Heston fighting for the common folk against overdominating authority. Many of Heston's characters have this dynamic.

I was talking about Heston with a coworker and he bluntly told me I didn't know Heston well enough. This coworker was a little younger I am now when Heston was doing his major work in the late fifties through the sixties. To him, Heston is not equated with conservatism except indirectly through his staunch advocacy of the NRA. My coworker also said that Heston was defending an inalienable right from being taken away by the state. While I am not a fan of the availability of guns, it is true that this right was granted to the people for the purposes of defense from an oppressive government or exterior state. While I believe that this amendment to the constitution needs a reexamination for today's context, it is nonetheless one of the rights granted to the people whether I like it or not. Viewed this way, Mr. Heston's NRA stance actually stands with many of the characters he played; that of a man fighting to protect inalienable rights.

My coworker said that the media had misrepresented Charlton Heston toward the end of his life. I think my coworker may be right and I think I may have mischaracterized Mr. Heston's political stances. Upon further reflection, his connection between the people he played and how he acted in real life doesn't seem so strange after all.

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