Dennis O’Neil: The Obese Lone Ranger
I’m hungry. Gimme a plate. No, a bigger one. Bigger. Bigger! Big as a house, a stadium. Now, lemme eat. Eggs and cheese and pork chops and ice cream and popsicles and pickles and brownies and doughnuts and cake and candy and pies and french fries and hot dogs and hamburgers and cinnamon rolls and marshmallows jelly beans and and and…whatever else you got. Gimme!
…don’t feel so good…
And there he goes galloping off into financial ignominy. We, of course, refer to The Lone Ranger and our first paragraph was what we English majors call a “metaphor” – a very bloated metaphor – for what we think is mainly wrong with the much maligned entertainment of the same name.
It got greedy. It wanted too much.
It wanted to be an action blockbuster and a cowboy picture and a kiddie picture and a comedy and a tale of mythic heroism and a satire and, by making the title character a well-meaning doofus with a cruel streak and his Comanche sidekick the real hero, it wanted to acknowledge the shabby treatment Native Americans have often gotten from our popular culture. Go ahead – try to get all that into one movie, even a long one,
Pertinent digression: Back in the sixties, I read work by a journalist named Gene Marine who used the term “engineering mentality,” by which he meant the conviction that if we can build something, we should build it and piffle on the consequences. So we can put up this dam and let’s not bother ourselves with the fact that there may be other, cheaper ways to accomplish whatever this dam is supposed to accomplish without disrupting the environment for miles in every direction. Give a fella a huge budget and by golly he’ll do something with it.
The Lone Ranger had a huge budget.
It might have benefitted from a smaller one. With less money to spend, the film makers might have been forced to decide on exactly which movie they wanted to make and focused plot and action accordingly. Less might have been more.
A final item for all you conspiracy mavens out there: in the embryonic continuity that The Lone Ranger’s creators were devising way back in the 1930s and 40s, probably with no idea that they were doing so, the Lone Ranger had a descendant, Britt Reid, who rode a big car (instead of a big horse) and had an Asian sidekick (instead of Comanche sidekick) and wore a mask and, yes, fought crime. Now: a couple of years ago there was a Green Hornet movie in which the white dude is the klutz and his non-white partner is the real ass-kicker.
One of the Hornet movie’s production team said there wouldn’t be a sequel because of a disappointing ticket sales and the news media are full of the woeful information that The Lone Ranger bombed big time at the box office. Coincidence? You decide.
And one other thing: urp
THURSDAY AFTERNOON: Martin Pasko
FRIDAY MORNING: Martha Thomases