by John Walters
200K (is not o.k.)
We’ve passed 200,000 dead via Covid-10 since the start of March and Clay Travis is still mocking folks for being “coronabros.” Note: I returned to Twitter a week ago, decided to follow Clay to see what he was saying, and then unfollowed him six days later. Honestly, I think he watches A Face In The Crowd (a severely under-viewed but highly prescient 1957 film starring Andy Griffith as a megalomaniacal southern demagogue rabble-rouser) at least once a week, simply for pointers.
Anyway, let’s concede to this: Americans who remember AIDS do not take Covid-19 as seriously, in general. Now, there are some key differences. What makes Covid-19 more scary is that your lifestyle, or a blood transfusion, is not the entry way to contracting it. So, on average, any person can get Covid-19 whereas with AIDS the majority of us had nothing to fear.
On the other hand, AIDS was a death sentence in the 1980s. And actually, the healthier you were (if you were gay), chances are you had an even better shot of getting it. Healthier—> more physically fit —-> more sexually attractive —-> more sexually active —-> higher risk.
AIDS took the healthiest (gay) men, and some women, and struck them down in their primes. It also had symptoms that any observer could plainly see: lesions on the skin, severe weight loss.
Covid-19 is the opposite. It is mostly a herd thinner, proving fatal mostly to those who were not so healthy to begin with. I don’t doubt for a second that there are conservatives who don’t even mind the disease (considering its victims), they only mind it being an inconvenience to the economy. And sports.
If everyone who contracted Covid-19 had the same chance of perishing, or even a higher chance, then our leaders (and Clay Travis) might be taking it more seriously. But it doesn’t work that way. And so mostly they don’t care.
We’d seen Gilda a time or two before—you may know it from one scene in The Shawshank Redemption—but never as we had last Saturday night. TCM’s “Czar of Noir,” Eddie Muller, featured it on Noir Alley, the channel’s weekly tribute to film noir.
As part of the outro to the film, Muller explained that as a teen he’d first seen the 1946 film and, like most boys, fallen hard for Rita Hayworth (how could you not? There’s never been a sexier woman in any film, and she even gets the movie’s best line: “If I was a ranch, they’d call me ‘Bar Nothing’.”). But then, Muller explained, he saw the film again in his late twenties “and I got it.”
What Muller “got,” and as he shared this he conceded that he’d be losing “a swath of TCM viewers,” was that Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford) and Ballin Mundson (George McReady) were also an item. Just as Gilda (Hayworth) had married Ballin for the money, Johnny was shackin’ up with him as a kept man.
Muller then went on to show many of the sexual innuendo moments in the film while pointing out that Mundson’s cane is the most shamefully obvious phallic symbol in film history. Our favorite moment: When Farrell proves his toughness to Mundson early by knocking out his henchman, Mundson’s cane, which he is holding gingerly in his hands, goes from having its tip on the ground to rising up 90 degrees. As Wayne and Garth might have said, “Schwwwwinnnng!”
So was the film’s villain really keeping both Gilda and Johnny, ex-lovers themselves, as his carnal pets? Muller has too much class to add this note, but I don’t: Dude’s name was Ballin! You figure it out.