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November 08, 1970 - Image 6

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1970-11-08

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Pc a Sax


Sunday, November 8, 1970

Page Six THE MICHIGAN DAILY Sunday, November 8, 1970

Just another,

(Continued from Page 2)
chilling and deadening climax.
With the hard hat offensive
fresh in our minds, there is no
question that when Joe busts
into the commune and gets a
few hippies between his sights,
it is relevant. But is this any
more than faddism? Is it a film
that says something about our
times as well as a film t h at
happens to be of our times? The
answer depends on how you ap-
proach Joe, and the movie al-
lows for two very different ap-
proaches. On the one side are
the critics who see Joe as
straight tragi-cornedy, a mod-
ern-day Marty. This is what I
call inductive drama; it s e e s
society through effects on in-
dividuals. J o e is just another
average Joe infused -with the
dementia of his part of Ameri-
If Joe aspires to this kind of
personal drama it is less than
successful. For drama it is too
often contrived and too often
lacks credibility. It is also guil-'
ty of the grossest stereotyping:
the worker who reads the Daily
News, goes bowling, has a

Southern wife named Mary Lou,
drives an old Chevy, wears a
corduroy coat, has a flag in his
rec room and an 'Honor Ameri-
ca' sticker on the wall over his
gun rack, and who trusts the
President ("If you can't buy a
used car from him, who can you
buy one frorn?"). Joe is all that!
Worst of all from the stand-
point of inductive drama is the
fact that I, for one, was very
conscious this is a film, not a
slice of life in human terms.
My reactions to Joe to I d me
that he wasn't real, because if
he were real I'd have felt the
same gnawing anger that I felt
last May watching the con-
struction workers beat up the
peace marchers. So, surprising-
ly enough, Joe isn't an angry
film. Most of the time I found
Joe laughable, and at, times I
even found him likable, which
is more than I can say for the
movie's "kids." Now there may
be some moderate liberals out
there who.are going to tell me
that if I ever met a hard hat
alone, face to face, I'd probably
like him too. It's an academic
question since if I ever do meet

a hard hat alone, face to face,
I'll probably never live to tell
about it. (Fortunately, there
aren't too many hard hats
knocking around.)
Anyway, there is a second ap-
proach, and this is the view I
hold. Joe is hyperbolic parody
and allegory. Its characters
aren't supposed to be real; it
isn't a slice of life. In the de-
decutive drama Joe Curran,
Bill Compton and the anony-
mous pot-heads are symbols,
and the film itself stereotypes
and objectifies to reveal some-
thing about the stereotyping
and objectification that act-
ually does go on in our society.
It's like the little boy in the
grammar school play who pro-
claims, "I am a tree," and then
sets his leg-roots and spreads
his arm-branches. Joe all but
shouts, "I am THE hard hat."
In this context the fatal flaws
of personal drama can become
assets, and as allegorical par-
ody Joe is both thoughtful and
powerful. In objectifying it s
characters and in parodying the
right-winger, pot-smoker and
suburbanite, it sets up its ter-
rifying conclusion and tells us
just how dangerous muddled
generalities can be. Our imper-
sonal society lends itself all too
well to broad categorizations of
its people. We feel we know the
driver of a car with an Amer-
ican flag decal proudly pasted
on the window. And in the ur-
ban enclaves of the blue collar-
ites, long hair has all kinds of
insidious connotations.
What's more, with atomiza-
tion all around us there seems
to be a psychic security in be-
longing to a bigger group, even
if its members are united by
nothing more than superficial
symbols like flag decals and
long hair. Where personal, pri-
mary relationships were once an
identification with or rejection
of people themselves, today our
relationships are marked by an
identification with or rejection
of various symbols that h a v e
come to replace people. We
stand in our relation to our
society like bizarre caricatures.

Beyond a reaction to atomiza-
tion there is probably a certain
amount of intellectual laziness
involved. After all, the media
age has taught us to think .in
simple images. And the upshot
of all this is that people are be-
coming less human in their fel-
low beings' eyes; lives are be-
coming cheaper. Those crazies
who said four, dead at Kent
wasn't enough, were really say-
ing that Kids as an entity, ie.
long hair, rock music, pot, bell-
bottoms, free love, got what It
deserved. The radicals who
scorn the Pigs'are also objectify-
ing. They're not talking about
flesh and blood at all. Of course,
symbols don't get killed. People
do. That seems to be Joe's mes-
On a symbolic level, Joe is
everything students expect a
fascist bigot to be. The doped-
up, dopey figures that pass for
kids are everything middle
America ascribes to young peo-
ple. And Bill Compton is in the
middle, a typical member of the
chic upper middle class with one
foot in the camp of Joe's Right
and the other foot planted in
the camp of his daughter's Con-
sciousness III. Compton is the
America both sides are trying
to win, the America both sides
must win. Without him, Joe is
just another ignorant loud-
mouth. Without him, his daugh-
ter is just another misunder-
stood hippie.
Compton's dilemma is .Amer-
ica's dilemma. He is inundated
from all sides by the symbols.
Even he himself is a symbol. So
he stands in the commune
holding one of Joe's rifles and
listening to the hippies' pleas
and to Joe's encouragement.
"Pull the trigger, Compton.
You'll be doing a service." He
stands there torn between the
symbols and the reality he sus-
pects is hiding beneath the sur-
face. He stands there confront-
ed by long hairs, but something
inside tells him these are people,
He stands there confused, and
he pulls the trigger.

A commercial center
from the ancient past

The palace of Qasr al-Hayr, c.728

(Continued from Page 2)
"one of the last flourishes of
the late classical antique style."
In nine hundred, A.D., as a
layer of fallen columns revealed
to the researchers, an earth-
quake occurred which suddenly
destroyed Qasr al Hayr's former
"In the twelfth century,"
stated Grabar, "people came to
live inside the enclosure, and
built mud brick walls of homes
over the original stone g r i d .
Qasr al Hayr became a medieval
walled city with an internal wat-
er system. The inhabitants re-
paired the walls to serve for de-,
fense until they abandoned the
city in the fourteenth century."

"Why excavate?" asked Gra-
bar, whose life in a remote part
of the Middle East prompted
him to question the purpose of
digging up the remains of this
"fragment of human energy" -
its ceramic sequence; its stucco
decoration, even its nails
"More than a search f o r
knowledge," asserted Grabar,
"excavation has a curiously
enriching effect: it shows t h e
vanity of all things human and
how art is used as a substitute
for reality. Beyond this, e a c h
fragment can be seen as the em-
bodiment of a unique human
experience as well as a clue;
each makes us uncertain of
whether we are unique or re-

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