Monday, May 2, 2016
A Special Kind of Stupid
Apparently Sam Elliott wasn't all that keen about being cast as another cowboy in The Big Lebowski but he has since come to embrace this prototype, taking the roles that came with it. However, I would have to think he would be a bit chagrined by how his "stranger" has come to be one of the most popular memes on social media, most often used to advocate gun rights. The quotes you see attributed to him can be easily generated at such meme sites as imgflip.
I had my brush with Sam Elliott many years ago, when he came to Northwest Florida to film Frogs. I was cast along with other neighborhood kids for the child roles in the movie, but alas I lost out to my classmate for the closing scene when a little boy shows a big frog to the kids who had survived the torment of amphibian and reptilian revenge. Still, I got to meet Sam and Joan Van Ark and glimpse Ray Milland in one of his least memorable roles. Sam would go on to better films, leaving Frogs far behind. However, a few of those giant South American toads lingered in the bayous.
Sam did a bit of everything in Hollywood, but his role as "the stranger" in The Big Lebowski is what most persons remember him for, thanks largely to these neverending memes. A certain kind of politics has been attached to him whether he likes it or not. While it does appear that Sam is a staunch gun advocate, he doesn't exactly line up with the right wing of politics as much as conservatives would like. Just the same, they claim him as one of their own. In a Hollywood overrun by liberals I suppose it is heartening to think there are a few conservatives among them.
For his part, Sam keeps his political views pretty much to himself. In his interview with the New York Times, he said that his greatest missed opportunity was passing on a chance to be with Reba McEntire in Annie Get Your Gun, showing a fondness for musicals. He also lent his voice to dinosaurs, not just the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and Coors. He doesn't appear to take himself too seriously, something Republicans could learn.
Unlike Clint Eastwood, Sam has not endorsed any political candidate that I know of. He prefers not to talk to chairs or go around bellyaching like Tom Selleck that he lost roles because of his politics. Sam seems content with where he is at in life, even if he hasn't reached the same level of fame of some of his contemporaries. He's one of those actors who gets better with age, and has been lauded for his role in Grandma, along side Lily Tomlin.
In this world of social media, it will be pretty hard for Sam to shake his iconic role as "the stranger." It's just too bad it has been co-opted by conservatives determined to make Sam Elliott an icon for their causes.