Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Clint Eastwood, the p-word, and ancient notions of manhood.

In his auteurist prime (essentially from THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES to LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA), Clint Eastwood had people like Roger Ebert and Richard Schickel (among other critics/journalists) to burnish a relatively positive image of him as a politically conservative filmmaker who could also provide strong (by 70s/80s/90s genre film standards) female characters.  And in films like the now-mostly-forgotten WHITE HUNTER BLACK HEART or Don Siegel's THE BEGUILED, Eastwood dared (unlike a lot of his peers past and present) to examine the harm unfiltered machismo can do to others.

Of course, none of that matters to younger generations.

And I cringed along with them when Eastwood embarrassed himself at the 2012 Republican convention by insulting an invisible straw-man version of Barack Obama sitting in a prop chair (presuming Mitt Romney operative Stuart Stevens thought he was inviting the we're-all-in-this-together Clint Eastwood who filmed the commercial extolling Chrysler and Detroit auto manufacturing).

So, at the age of 86, Clint Eastwood (along with up-and-coming son Scott) sits with interviewer Michael Hainey for ESQUIRE in his comfortable Malpaso offices on the Warner Brothers lot and snarls about the passing of the era of just accepting the occurrences of racial and other prejudices instead of challenging them.  Then, more scowling about today's too-sensitive "pussy generation."   Finally, a mixed verdict on Donald Trump; Clint thinks that Trump has said "a lot of dumb things" but can't bring himself to vote for Hillary Clinton.

And there's also this landmark of non-feminist patriarchal thinking from Clint--which likely won't persuade online Millennials to spend time separating the wheat from the chaff of his filmography (including the Charlie Parker biopic BIRD, which helped make Forest Whitaker a star):
ESQ: Clint, your father retired when he was sixty and died at sixty-four. Does his death haunt you? Like, "If I stop working, I will drop"?
CE: Maybe. A lot of people when they retire, they just expire. It happens to men more than women. Women usually have great interest in the family, because the family's always growing and they're always coming to the rescue.
SE: [Laughs.] Are you talking about my mom?
CE: For a man, once you've sired your pups, you're done.

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