Whenever I hear the name of film actor Gary Cooper, I think of two things:
1. My dad who, in fact, was named after him and
2. The part in Mel Brooks Young Frankenstein when, during a rendition of
"Puttin' on the Ritz", Gene Wilder says, "...just like Gary Cooper..." and, Peter
Boyle (the Monster) bellows the punch, "suuuuuper duuuuper!"
In my circle of friends, when I cover my mouth and cough while simultaneously exclaiming an
affection for some classic westerns, especially those including Gary Cooper or
John Wayne, I am suddenly marked for social death. It is then that my very
well-chosen, intelligent, animal loving, artistic, politically speaking on-the-fence and liberal friends sit up straight in their seats, spit out whatever was in their mouth, and assess me
with new eyes; eyes that are narrowing their crosshairs upon a possible threat.
From that moment on, their trust in me is tainted. I'll catch them skimming through my iTouch
for any one song by Ted Nugent or some streaming podcast hosted by Glenn Beck. I'll find the contents of my sock drawer on the floor and assume that they were looking for my gun and my well-worn, keepsake bible complete with highlighted passages throughout. My Native American friend Corey will casually mention his thesis paper on "The Exploitation of Native Americans in Hollywood" every time I see him. "I know they were exploited and negatively portrayed in most of the old westerns." Is what I tell him. His crosshairs fix on my throat, "Then how can you say that you like old westerns and still live with yourself?"
I can say it, because it's true. And I can say it without feeling like I am rooting for the enemy because I, Roz Inga (Miss Inga, if you're nasty) can discern fact from fiction historically while enjoying John Wayne's bossy banter or Gary Cooper's calm manliness. If anyone really thinks that Native Americans were the ignorant savages that the old classics portrayed them as, well, then, you aren't as smart as your chatroom girlfriend keeps saying you are.
And so, here we go! I am dragging my friend Jake "Goldfinger" Wigley to watch High Noon tonight at our very own Princess Theater here in P-Town. I am pre-mediatating my snack shop purchases, being that everything is only $1, there might be ten empty boxes of Dots in my lap
by the end of the night (all of which I will carry to the trash by myself, thank you very much.)