Friday, July 6, 2012

"Hang 'Em High" (1968)

Eastwood’s first leading role following “the man with no name,” the first film of his own production company, is still a timely film today. The highly charged, self-righteous and judgmental attitudes are the sort that one finds everywhere in America these days. Even though there has always been an undercurrent of the sort in American culture, they seem to have exacerbated over the past couple of decades.

The film begins with Eastwood’s character being lynched by an overzealous posse out for blood and thinking him to be a cattle rustler. They don’t bother to see him tried or test his story. Unfortunately for them, he survives and goes to work for the justice system. Even worse, that justice system is just as bloodthirsty as the posse.

The film leaves one with a bad taste in the mouth, about the characters, the injustices, and the whole system; and not just in the movie. More and more we live in a culture that reflects the posse in the film. People are up in arms and ready to assume the worst about people. Most of the action on social networks (when not updates about the most inane trivialities people are up to) seem to be people expressing hatred: for the government, the religious, the homosexuals, immigrants. Everyone has been worked up into a frenzy of paranoia and suspicion.

Whenever things get this tense anticipate bad outcomes for all, unless someone can remember what the benefit of the doubt is and to be forgiving.

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