Sunday, April 6, 2008

His Toupee Will Live On

Well, I guess we can finally pry Charlton Heston's guns from his cold, dead hands.

Known mainly from his roles in "The Ten Commandments," "Ben Hur," and of course "Planet Of The Apes," Heston's celebrity status was greater than his talent or artistic achievements. He was a wooden actor with a great profile, a silly man who spouted clichéd pieties, a political reactionary who placed his faith in imperial war, police state measures against the darker hordes, and cultural assaults on anyone who threatened Heston's concept of "normality" -- white male heterosexual rule.

As president of the NRA, perhaps his greatest acting role, Heston made a big fuss about "fascist" gun control laws, pretending that the countless millions of American gun owners are somehow a besieged minority, like Jews in Nazi Germany. It was an asinine, ahistorical stance, but it played big with his core audience: white guys who whine about being "second-class" citizens in a world dominated by effeminate white liberals, black gangstas, militant fags and lesbians, and assorted multiculturalists who make decent white people feel ashamed of their heritage. Heston pushed for an America where one could "be white without feeling guilty," clearly a pressing problem where whites dominate and own every major power outlet.

Though Heston loved and defended real world violence (his humiliation at the hands of Christopher Hitchens on CNN during the first Gulf War was priceless -- Heston couldn't name the countries surrounding Iraq, the bombing of which he advocated, a position that Hitchens would later advocate with decidedly more gusto), he blanched at fictional aggression, most notably Ice-T's speed metal ditty "Cop Killer." Heston cried about how Ice-T put valiant police officers in harm's way with a song that enjoyed limited release. In fact, Heston did more to advertise "Cop Killer" than Time/Warner, which eventually bowed to political pressure and dropped Ice-T. Heston took full credit for that, beating his chest with pride having put another criminal Negro in his place. That "Cop Killer" was a song about self-defense against racist L.A.cops, who were viewed rather differently in the black community, meant nothing. In Heston's mind, singing about shooting a violent cop was the same as actually pulling the trigger. When real bullets flew the other way, Heston said little, save for supporting whatever police felt they had to do to protect "civilization."

Charlton Heston hosted "SNL" twice, and delivered very funny performances. In one sketch, he played God coming to collect his cut from Oral Roberts; in another, he played an aging bag boy in a grocery store, keeping his job through barely-veiled threats to his manager, played by Phil Hartman:

Manager: Look, Elwin, you've been with the company for a long time, but maybe it's time to . . . well . . . you know . . .

Elwin [Heston]: No. I don't know. What?

Manager: Well, don't you think it's a little strange to be a bag boy at your age?

Elwin: Strange, yeah. But, then, a lot of things in this world are strange. I read in the paper that a guy actually ate 65 hot dogs to win a ten dollar bet. Now, that's strange. And, in that same paper, I read about a fellow who got fired from his job, and then he came back the next day with a shotgun, and shot his boss and killed him. And three of his co-workers, too. And then he danced some sort of insane death dance! (laughs) Yeah, it is a strange world!

Apparently, it was okay for Heston to fictionally threaten violence. Yep, it's a strange world after all.