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Posts Tagged ‘Arizona’

  After posting my quick look at what “The Big Lebowski” is really trying to say, I thought I would look at another Coen Brothers comedy, that is really more than just a comedy.  “Raising Arizona” was made early on in the Coen Brothers career, but it is just as poignant and powerful as most of their other work.

  On the surface, “Raising Arizona” is a comedy about an “ex-convict” who with his “ex-cop” wife, kidnap one of five babies, just birthed to the Arizona family.   Plain and simple.  Now, the theme behind this movie is a little more obvious than “The Big Lebowski”, but I usually feel a lot of the symbolism that illustrates this theme, can get lost on some. 

  So what is the theme?  “Being of an adult age, does not mean you are ready to operate in this world”.  Or maybe more simply, being an adult by age, does not make you an adult by nature.

   Like past articles, I will try not to go into too much and just hit the major points, be it in order or not.  This brings me to what I think is one of my favorite images in the film.  When Gale and Evelle Snoats (John Goodman and William Forsythe) break out of prison, we see them coming out of a muddy hole outside the prison grounds.  John Goodman’s head slowly pushes out of the pulsating mound that was made possible by torrential rains, as he screams with a face full of muddy slop sliding down.  When he fully emerges, he plunges his hand down the hole and pulls out his brother whom he holds by one leg upside down as they both scream and wail.  This is their birth unto the world.  This is two men, coming out of a womb.  And the shots resemble much of what you would see in a real birth as the baby cries as the doctor holds it upside down and slaps it.  Now of course that may not be what really happens in most of the world, but it is an image that everyone has seen or heard before.

  By the end of the movie, when Gale and Evelle figure that they just aren’t ready to be part of this world, they go back to the hole they came out of, which is now dried and caked over from the hot Arizona sun, as they climb back into their symbolic womb, because they just weren’t ready to deal with real life and the challenges it brings.

  Now moving to our main characters, H.I. and Edwina (Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter) who have decided that since, Edwina, who can not have a child of her own, will steal one of the Arizona Quintuplets, since the Arizona’s probably have too much to handle on their own, so they won’t really mind. 

  I want to be clear on one thing before we move forward.  While the actions of our protagonists is of course, something to be frowned upon, to put it lightly, they are truly at heart, decent people.  H.I. is a repeat offender when it comes to late night convenient store hold ups, but he would never hurt another human being, that is clear.  And it is funny, when he is trying to wrangle up the five Arizona children, as quiet as he can possibly be, as they mischievously crawl around their room.  Most interesting of all is when one baby crawls underneath the crib and H.I. grabs the babies leg to pull him out from the tight space; the baby laughing the whole time.  H.I.’s face, however, when he is being pulled out from under a car as he tried to escape from Bounty Hunter, Leonard Smalls; is one of pain and fear.

  The shot and placement of the baby being pulled from under the crib, and the one of  H.I. being pulled out from under the car are one in the same; H.I., is a child, who does things without thought of consequence or understanding of any kind.  While we have empathy for H.I., he is ultimately a bad man trying to snatch this child.  Leonard Smalls, is an evil man, and I would say the spiritual predecessor and similar character to that of Anton Chigurh of a more recent Coen Brothers film, “No Country for Old Men”.  While the Coens did not write the story of “No Country for Old Men”, it is obvious why they decided to make the film, after seeing Randall “Tex” Cobb as Leonard Smalls.  And now this purely evil man, is pulling H.I. out from under this car, as he tries to scurry away, attempting to save his life.

  Once Smalls pulls H.I. out, and pummels him a bit more, he grabs H.I. in a bear hug and tries to squeeze the life out of him.  With the small freedom he has with parts of his arms, H.I. flails out of pain and panic at the chest of Leonard Smalls, finally pulling aside part of Smalls’ vest to reveal a Woody Woodpecker tattoo.   A snide looking Woody at that.  The same exact Woody Woodpecker tattoo, that H.I. has.  These two men, were at one time, one in the same.  If  H.I. doesn’t change his ways, he will become Leonard Smalls.  And while this is a post about a movie that says, just because you are “grown up, doesn’t mean you are”, then what is Leonard Smalls.  Well, Leonard Smalls is the person that thought he was ready for the world and since he didn’t know enough when he was younger or more probably, wasn’t raised by someone who was ready for the world either; he became a monster.

  Man, I could just go on and on about this one, but this is meant to be a short run down, not a long one.  I know I missed plenty of other things to talk about and really didn’t wrap this one up with a bow.  But I think, if you watched this movie before, thinking it was just a comedy, take what you have read here and watch it again, and let me know what you think or see.  It is one movie that you can always watch whenever it is on.

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  In the USA, forward progress isn’t a given as it is with time.  Here in America, we bitch and moan about change until it’s crammed down our throats, only to be buffered by some idiot whining about how large the government is (which by the way didn’t bother his simple ass when Georgy was spending billions to blow up someone a few skin tones darker in Iraq.)

  Now let’s get this straight, I never liked Arizona.  Sure, they say you can find some organic food in Flagstaff and the weather is always awesome, but the arid and sterile vibe of places like Phoenix make me feel like I’m nearing the peak of an awkward mental setting, spurred on by a bad batch of psilocybin.  It’s a place infiltrated by chain stores and pretense. In any event, I’m not risking anything by vouching for Arizona’s secession from our stagnant and grumbling union. The recent law which will become a reality in a few months unless the Feds find OBVIOUS LEGAL PRECEDENCE for counteracting said immigration enforcement, is blatantly racist.  Basically, if a police officer suspects that someone could be illegal, he can pull them over, and if anything, at least find some contraband, or any other puny reason to justify the fact that this person was pulled over in the first place.  

  My question is, unless you saw someone drive right across the border from Mexico, how the fuck can you “suspect” they are illegal, other than profiling them because they appear to be Latino? Even if they are Latino, there are millions of Latinos living all over the USA, who have gone through the appropriate channels to obtain legal citizenship, and don’t deserve to be hassled.

  In any event, I don’t buy into illegal and legal immigration.  It makes no sense.  Was there a list they had to put their name on at the border? Our corporations pillage towns all over Mexico, dump waste in their rivers, and then wonder why they’re fleeing the hell of border towns to seek a place where their family can find so much as potable drinking water. AS LONG AS NAFTA RAPES MEXICO, PEOPLE WILL COME HERE. This law is a farce, and is more representative of the current American social climate, as well as our history, than anyone wants to admit.

  I’m not gonna write some bullshit about how we are a country based on fairness and rights and freedom, and all this crap. We’re not. Blacks had to be beaten in the streets of Selma and have firehoses unleashed on them in Memphis, before our government was willing to concede that as human, blacks also should have the right to vote…..much less sit wherever the fuck they want on a public bus. I’m sick and tired of this “land of the free, home of the brave” shit. American historical synopsis: Some white dudes said “fuck it” to paying taxes and armed themselves to the teeth so as not to be forced into taxation. These knuckleheads, “OUR FOREFATHERS,” (not really my forefathers) were slave-trading, tax-evading, aristocratic, hypocrites. You can wax freedom-shpeal all you want, but that’s all just lip service being paid to the amelioration of real freedom, and most people’s need to paint the USA as some benevolent power.

  Grammar school history textbooks have robbed you of your brain. America’s racist social landscape is born out by laws like the one just passed in Arizona. We look back on the Civil Rights Movement as some final hurdle we got over, as if the need to encourage a more tolerant society is no longer there; as if the entire slate was wiped clean by what was essentially a PR disaster for the American government.  The Natives had their land taken, the Panthers had their leaders shot for providing community resources in black neighborhoods, and the plight of the immigrant in America is demonized by an entire population of American’s who follow in the footsteps of their xenophobic ancestors.

  I’ll be fine if I never go to Arizona again, but I hope the Feds are able to stop this one in its tracks. Racism is played out America. Come out from under your chicken fried steak to experience the world outside the confines of racial groupings, language barriers, and the me v.  them attitude employed in every aspect of our society, from public schools to geopolitical policy.

  You might not be as scared anymore…until then, AZ is just on more reason for secession.

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