Friday, November 8, 2013
The Counselor by Cormac McCarthy
VIOLENCE: FACE IT. EMBRACE IT. That's the motto of the work of Cormac McCarthy, and it makes an appearance in the screenplay "The Counselor," too. The movie and book format script is mostly about greed, drugs, sex and its unfortunate ties to violence, with a chance for the author to play David Mamet and even Woody Allen with dialogue. In keeping with his perchant for introducing bizarre new murder weapons, like the pneumatic cattle gun in "No Country for Old Men," this time it's a garrote device---a handy cable and motor you slip over your victim's head and walk away, there being no way for him to escape his fate since the cable will retract automatically into a spool, slowly decapitating him. Of course you can't use the thing twice unless you manage to clear all the gawkers (rubber necks) and clean off the blood. Since McCarthy's last little dialogue in the screenplay seems to sum up his own recurrent theme of man being a greedy, violent monster behind a fancy veneer of respectability and stylish clothes, (and that we need to accept killing because not to do so means even more killing), I would like to say that we do indeed already both accept it and embrace it. (Look at the popularity of cage fighting and violent video games.) So what's the big revelation? Does anyone doubt that our society would explode into mass riots and torch fests if junk food outlets suddenly closed and boxing fans couldn't get anything but weed burgers and Big Gulps of rain water? There are enough guns out there hiding in closets to mount three Civil Wars, and Homeland Security has purchased enough bullets to maintain a shooting war (within America) for 20 YEARS (at staggering cost to the taxpayer.) Those bullets would be used to protect gated communities of rich people with wine cellars and aged cheeses against the riff raff swarming like zombies to get in. So, okay. We get it. We've faced it. But how is mankind embracing it going to ensure the survival of the species? Isn't he just counseling people to prepare for Armageddon "On the Road"? How about mankind progressing beyond violence and war, instead of buying NFL Premium Sunday Ticket on Directv or Comcast to support the NFL denying the fact that most of its players suffer from various degrees of brain injury as a result of all the head banging? (Note: George Orwell said that "sports is war without the weapons,"and everything is a sport these days.) Is the evolution of man now stalled and further social progress impossible? (eg. "Our technology is going up like a rocket ship, but our social progress is a flat line"--George Lucas) Are we all, indeed, doomed by our human flaws? ...Okay, maybe so, but only if we embrace it instead of resist it. You get what you wish for.