The ground was hard as granite, as he stepped from his saddle. Dawn had come an hour ago and already that furnace of a sun was belching heated tendrils across the entire region, like fire-laden fingers. The wind, like gnarled fingers, was already stinging his face, as he looked up the street. Dust was lingering in the air and tumbleweeds blew ominously across the dirt street in Laredo.
He could feel the dirt between his teeth, crunching and grinding and drying his mouth, like old and tired bones. His right hand felt the smooth leather of his holster and the cold hardness of his pistol—as he pulled the coat behind him with his other hand. Small clouds of dust and dirt swirled with every step he took as he moved closer to his opponent. The stench of death was already in the wind, startlingly salty and mushy, like the bottom of an old, barely wet, well.
His opponent’s head twitched ever so slightly as his hand went for his gun, but the stranger was faster, much, much, faster. Two shots rang out so fast, so quick, it almost sounded like one big boom. The first shot pierced the front of the opponent’s head with a neat and clean little hole drawing his eyes to the center of his face, as the bullet passed through his brain.
The second shot was to the chest, with an ever so slight thud, knocking the wind from his lungs and he was dead before he hit the ground. The stranger whirled about and stepped to his horse and in one effortless move threw his right leg over the saddle and sat down. In the space of time it took to take that man’s life, the stranger was already on his way out of town.
The townspeople quietly and carefully stepped into the street and watched the distorted heat waves and engulfed the vision of the stranger riding away. There was never a word spoken by the people. They looked at the man lying in the street and took the two gold double eagle coins from his pocket and placed them on his eyes. The undertaker was already there with a make-shift wooden coffin, the newspaper journalist was ready to take a picture of the dead man, propping him up in his coffin against the wall….
What you have just read is my own rendition of similar story lines that have been written over the years. Have you ever wondered why stories like this have been so successful, whether in the written word or on the film screen? Let’s begin with the basics; there’s the viewpoint of the “stranger.” Nothing was ever stated about his physical appearance, whether he was 6 feet tall or simply 4 feet tall. Nothing in the story suggested he was thin and wiry, but you can bet your bottom dollar, he wasn’t 350 pounds either.
Then there’s the short viewpoint of the opponent. In your mind’s eye, he must have been slightly smaller in stature than the stranger; otherwise he would have won the duel. Then there’s the viewpoint of the townspeople. But you once again get the feeling they are a fearful lot, slight in stature and definitely in awe of what just took place. They were at least respectful to a degree; they provided a wooden coffin and probably a plot on Boot Hill. And notice no one stole the two double eagle coins from the dead man’s eyes (in those days worth about $20.00 each).
Yet there is one viewpoint, no one ever discusses: YOUR viewpoint, as the reader or viewer. What did you get from the story, however portrayed? You got feelings, maybe one of justifiable elation, strong feelings of vengeance served: “He shot the bad guy down!”
And yet there was nothing in the story to that particular end. As a matter of fact there was not one single word as to why this event took place. I must admit, it is easier to perform this task in the written word, than on the silver screen. For the silver screen there must be a reason for everything, as always, the proverbial: who, what, when and where and then finally, for what reason. The silver screen requires due diligence in these areas and leaves little room for loose ends. Yet…the question remains, why are these stories so successful? Even with the movie-baring the brunt for every detail, why do these types of imaginings work so well? The reason is because it appeals to your…wait for it…Pride. (Dang their hide, there’s that word again!)
Everyone in the world has been in at least one situation or the other, where you feel that wish, to be the stranger. Everyone at some point in time has felt crushed, disappointed, taken advantage of, wronged in some way. Thus the point of view of being the stranger satisfies us to an extent. All of us are able to view ourselves, as righting that wrong that hurt us. Thereby, “vindication” suits us! And Hollywood knows that story all too well and they have expended millions, upon millions, of dollars investigating every single angle they can think of: Thus the successful movies. They are more up-front and in-your-face movies are ones of: Action and Adventure. And to be very honest, it matters little, the time-frame for the movie, whether a western or even a war movie all use the exact same sets of formulation, bent to seek out those feelings in the viewer and exploit them. And on every level, it is to extract money and time from you! Now…tell me that pride is not alive and well today.
Romans 12:17-21: “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Oops! There I go again, stepping on toes, right? Well…let’s think on this for a moment. How many times do we hear someone say, “A tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye?” We hear it used in movies all the time. Why is it that no one in Hollywood is willing to use that bit of Scripture as it was truly meant?
Matthew 5:38-48: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.’
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
If you read that Scripture correctly, you will see how Hollywood has distorted the Word of God, to fit their own interests. What bothers me most is that they are so blatant about doing so. And what do we, the viewers do? We fall for it every time, hook, line and sinker! Hollywood is in it for the money and that’s all…gimme…gimme…gimme, all your money. It is now BIG MONEY for them too, why do you think they spend so much to make the movies in the first place? (It ain’t ‘cause, they like us.)
Pride will make you fork over huge amounts of money, for a single movie experience. Let’s start at the beginning. You spend an obscene amount of time before the TV and you see the trailers. You can’t wait for the movie to come out; then you fork over, at least $20.00 for two tickets (you gotta take your best girl, right?). Then there’s that big tub of buttery popcorn, that’s at least $7.50-$10.00, there’s that big box of candy another $7.50 each and one really big slurp Coca Cola $10.00 and you must share that (all nice and cuddly now?).
Not including gas to drive there or taxes, that’s $54.00! Wow. The theaters are doing well these days, right? And if you dare to look around you, there’s hundreds more sitting right there with you. Now that’s about $5400.00 per showing and at least 5 showings a day, for one week…that’s a whopping $189,000.00! Not too shabby for a week of showing one movie, right? And now to think, many places have more than one theater, showing the same movie, for the same amount of time.
Pride makes you walk out of that theater, girl in hand, feeling like you are the “stranger” now, chest all puffed out, head held high…Go ahead…make my day… And so now, if you are able to think back, how many movies have you been to in your life? Then, you need to ask yourself, how much pride is hidden in your life? Are you beginning to see the light here? Pride is the most insidious SIN, because we make it our own and it begins to spread through us like cancer. We practice it every single day and in everything we do, and why is that? Because we have learned, that we must always take care of Number One…Numero Uno…ME….of course! (It’s all about…ME!) Ya get it now? Movin’ on….