July 16, 2022
I have an artist friend who really enjoys arguing about history, especially as it relates to art and movies. He is quite loquacious and sometimes profound and, well, he does love to go off on some crazy angles.
Case in point: I asked some of my friends about the new Bass Reeves movie projects (two different film productions are currently in the works) and what they thought these stories, i.e. scripts, should adhere to in order to make it work for a modern audience. I have heard reports that one of the productions was toying with a White racist sidekick for Reeves and all the Native Americans are pure and put upon. I am just so tired of this line of preaching—it's not storytelling it is preaching!—which is why I was asking my friends for some creative ideas on how to reinvent not only the Western, but the Bass Reeves story. So far, my argumentative friend has been the only one to reply. Here, in part, is his initial response:
"If I was to make a movie about Bass Reeves I would work it like the novel, Little Big Man wherein Bass is an old man who has seen American society change. Old warriors do NOT brag about their killings nor their sexual conquests. Those things have faded in importance and Reeves COULD be a great vehicle in which to view this changing of America thru the eyes of a black man who risked his life in defense of that same country!
"That said, all of the 'Westerns' today are merry excuses for gun violence wherein the fictional plot GIVES the justification for that violence. Shane took a LONG boil before the shit hit the fan and when it did you understood the justification and it was over in 30 seconds.