Tom Laughlin 1931-2013
Tom Laughlin, best known for his role as Billy Jack, passed away last week. He was an actor, writer, director, producer, and activist and like a couple of us Common Folker’s he was raised in the brew city, aka Milwaukee. He was also influential in independent film, a “prototype for independent filmmaking and distribution.”
I only know about the Billy Jack phenomenon because of a film class on counterculture in college. At the time it was pretty easy to dismiss the because the films are pretty campy and dated and all about taking down “The Man”. Though, while it shares a lot of ideals of hippies in the 60s, it was also all about taking action and actually doing something instead of sitting on your ass and philosophizing about it (generally in the films this took place in the form of pretty rudimentary kung-fu, karate but you get the idea). I have to attribute part of this action taking to his midwest upbringing where if you’re going to be about it, you gotta be about it.
I digress, Tom Laughlin, and Billy Jack (loosely based on him), were men of action and an example of how one person, and each one of us, can really make positive change in things. So, cheers to a good life passed on.
And I’ll leave you all with a great “I’ll go berserk” monologue right before Billy Jack kicks some racist ass, as quoted in the Nytimes obituary-
“…when I see this girl of such a beautiful spirit so degraded, and this boy, that I love, sprawled out by this ape here, and this little girl, who is so special to us that we call her God’s little gift to sunshine — and when I think of the number of years she’s going to have to carry in her memory the savagery of this idiotic moment of yours, I — just — go — berserk!”
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