August 28, 2003,
Yesterday, Christine A. said, "I don't believe Open Range was ever intended to be a Western 101 of historical and factual correctness. The movie was intended to entertain."
This prompted Will from Bisbee to respond:
“Many people have a notion that you either entertain or get things right. Not true. Getting the hats right in Open Range wouldn't have cost a penny more, and it wouldn't have hurt the coolness factor, either--look at Tombstone. As for the number of drovers, it would've been cheap to get a couple of unknown actors and have them killed off early in the movie, either in town when Mose gets beaten up or when the night raid happens. That would've added to the action, not taken from it. It would've made Boss and Charlie feel more trapped by the bad rancher--either they abandon the herd now 'cause they no longer have enough drovers, or they fight. And it would've increased their determination to get revenge.
“What I don't get is why Hollywood rarely gets a simple truth: Do anything that'll please the hardcore fans without alienating the general audience. You know the hardcore fans will see a movie. Their praise or complaints affects the word of mouth, and the word of mouth affects the box office.
“Mind you, I don't regret seeing Open Range. But if it'd been all it could've been--a little more accurate, a little less self-indulgent--I would see it twice and buy the DVD.”
These comments led Emma B. to say, “If a western fan pans a western, people don't think, ‘The guy was expecting too much.’ They think, ‘It must really suck if even western fans don't like it.’”
We are working hard in the office on the Classic Gunfights book. Gus is laying the sucker out and Meghan is editing (she is such a stickler for detail, very good at what she does).
I’m also re-reading Gunfighter Nation by Richard Slotkin to get some ideas for the introduction. Slotkin has some interesting ideas about our Frontier “myths.” Among them, he believes the “ideal mythic American” is one who has defeated both the “savages” of the Western wilderness and the class system in the East and beyond. Slotkin also states, “Put simply, our biggest myth is ‘regeneration through violence.’” That we need to eradicate savage foes. And “the fury of class resentment is projected onto the American savage, who becomes the only obstacle to the creation of a perfect republic.” And, “Yes, America has been a peculiarly violent nation.” And, “When history is translated into myth, the complexities are simplified and compressed into the action of ‘heroes.’ The narrative of the hero’s action is the key to the material world.” Somewhat overblown, but I think there are some gems of thought in there that I’ll steal. Ha.
Our new dog Buddy easily slipped off his leash and dog collar and booty wrap, jumped in the pool and blew out his stitches. He went in this morning with Deena and Kathy and now has the dog-dreaded Elizabethan collar and he’s on tranquilizers for five days. Guess who gets to babysit the big twit?
Carole took a call yesterday from a guy who went to Vegas, happened into D Bar J Hatters, saw a True West magazine for the first time, bought it, went back to his hotel room to read it, couldn’t stand it and two hours later, called for a three year subscription. Now if we can only get 60,000 more calls like that we’ll be out of the woods.
“You can't create humor out of happiness. I'm astonished at the number of people who write to me saying, ‘Why can't you create happy stories for us? Why does Charlie Brown always have to lose? Why can't you let him kick the football?’ Well, there is nothing funny about the person who gets to kick the football.”
—Charles M. Schulz
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