I listen to The Nod. This week it gave me this gift from 1982. A home made commercial for a south Chicago grocery chain:
Which leads me, inevitably, to Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Inevitable because without The Nod I would (a) not know about this cultural masterpiece, and (b) would not know how to read it. Increasingly I think it takes a village of diversity to read a text if texts are to change.
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri wasn’t as good as I thought it would be, but it was enjoyable. Chief Willougby’s letters kind of bordered on sappy, and all that vigilante stuff…. well, I’m not a fan just because I like Francis McDormand.
Then there is the supposed controversy about the film and how the racist cop is redeemed. Well, at the end of the movie he seems to be going off to maybe execute someone for something he said in a bar which seems like it might stand a reasonable chance of being baloney, but, yeah, he gets a glass of orange juice from the man he threw out a window, and Mildred thanks him, and the Chief writes him a letter. Ok, yes, he is redeemed.
The worst thing about his redemption in terms of narrative is that it is unearned. The Chief’s letter made me wince: deep down he’s a good guy? We have seen NO evidence of this AT ALL. It’s almost like the Chief has called it wrong. Like how he decided to shoot himself in the head without consulting his wife. Or how he paid for the billboards to stay up even though they might lead to Mildred being killed.
And all the Black characters are super lame. How come Mildred’s friend and the billboard guy flirt? That’s just weird. Is it because they’re the only Black people in town? And the new Chief may as well have the theme to Shaft playing in the background every time he’s on screen.
Maybe though I dislike Mildred the most. After all, she’s a horrible person who does horrible things.
She’s woke, she’s fierce, she’s beyond shame or scruples, she’s screaming truth to power, she’s charged up with the wrath of an avenger.
Scruples are good.
She’s woke? Nah, she’s just a Republican. Stockpiling hate for the institutions so when the apocalypse comes she can shoot whoever she wants from her front porch. In the end all that talk about sister and brotherhood is horseshit and life is really a race to see who gets to their holster of hate fastest.
Someone else wrote that she smashes the patriarchy. I think that she smashes against the patriarchy. There is no justice and no change. She remains able to be terrorised by her ex. Rape: unresolved. Murder: unresolved. Domestic violence: unresolved. #NotAllMen. #NotAllCops. Pah!
There’s only really two moments that made sense to me in the movie. The scene where the Chief shows up to talk to Mildred and explains how there is actually no evidence and that sucks, and the scene where Mildred talks to a deer about life probably being meaningless. Those two things go together. Mildred ruins the first one by suggesting keeping a database of everyone’s DNA and shooting people who are guilty. (Yeah! Right on!)
You know, at first, I was irked by criticism of the film. I read criticisms about its handling of race and about its ableism and got ready to roll my eyes. I’ve learned though, over the last two years, to just shut up and listen. When you shut up and listen you might learn something. The critique of the film over its ableism struck me because I noticed not laughing at all the jokes about the “dwarf” when other people were. I thought – presumably these jokes are being used to show that the speaker is wanker but this is a little undercut if the audience is laughing along. That very good critique added another layer to my discomfort about the suicide. While I didn’t like how the Chief thought the decision only involved him, or his truly bizarre idea that his suicide would be less (less) painful than his gradual decline, Eva Squire points that this death also plays into that idea that if you’re not perfectly healthy then life’s not worth living.
Presumably because he is a good cop with a good cock he is to be admired for ending it with “courage”. His Republican admirers though would not likely support euthanasia legislation I’m guessing. The film also gets to use the word “fag” a lot. Including the Chief. Worryingly I had no clear read on whether that was a joke or not.
Funny how people who hate Trump will “vote” for him if his values are portrayed by Francis McDormand. There’s good people on both sides. Blame on both sides.