While in lockdown over the last few months, I engaged avidly in my online business, but I entertained myself by watching reruns of “Gunsmoke.” That, my friends, is something I highly recommend to you during these perilous times.
It’s not just that the show which started airing in 1955–with no slick production values–gained its 20-year following for stellar, provocative, adult writing, and for its stunning acting by not only the series regulars, but also for a list of guest stars that reads like the Who’s Who of Great Hollywood Stars in the ensuing decades. It seems almost as if everyone who ever became a star started on Gunsmoke. If you want TV, real TV, it doesn’t get any realer than “Gunsmoke.”
It was my father’s favorite show. Though I rarely watched it, I see now why it was. And, I see my father, in his own way, was Matt Dillon. That’s what drew me to watch the series now.
But I did not expect to find what I found. The messages of nearly every show I have watched echo to this very moment in time, relevant to nearly every crisis America is facing today–including the crisis of honor, common sense, and emotional maturity.
So, if you have been tearing your hair out as anarchists created “Chaz” in a section of Seattle that they seized, listen to me now. ABC calls it a “festival.” I call it something altogether different when a police station is abandoned and 6 city blocks are cordoned off–not by police–but by the demonstrators. I call it something altogether different when they erected barricades and fences and declared themselves to be a separate, autonomous zone. Armed demonstrators who are self-proclaimed civilian law enforcement guard the entrances to those blocks, and decide who gets in and who does not. Reports of threats of violence against business owners who want to get to their already Corona-Virus, and riot-embattled businesses are surfacing. Reports of extortion, whereby a citizen or business owner has to pay money to be allowed to return to their own property, are surfacing.
I am not there. I have not checked this out in person, as I was prone to do when I was young. Today, however, the group released its “demands,” which must be met, or they will not return the Capital Hill District to Seattle.
And that is why I want you all to YouTube search, or Google Search, and find a way to watch the “Gunsmoke” episode entitled “Seven Hours to Dawn.” I mean it. You will see for yourself in a drama from long ago what it’s like when a gang suddenly arrives in town, closes off the town, shuts down law enforcement, and extorts everything from the now-helpless citizens and businesses.
The Mace Gore gang made its demands. Confident that no law enforcement could rise up against them, they created their own “festival.” But it was not a festival to the citizens of Dodge City whose town, freedom, and civil rights had been stolen.
I would encourage you to watch this. And then see that the news rooms at ABC–and any other fool places who think that this is a “festival,” just a “harmless group of people with grievances”– get to watch it too.
If you are part of the gang that is lawless, and fostering anarchy, it’s a “festival,” a fun evening out where you can tweet out for vegan food. But, for those whose rights have been taken, and who have no police protection now, I am sure it feels very different.
A TV series from 65 years ago is not only powerfully entertaining, but it holds insight for us today. “Seven Hours to Dawn–” if you care!
So, watch it, and decide if you stand with Mace Gore, or you stand with the people of Dodge City. Who knows, “Gunsmoke” might just solve most of our country’s problems, if we will learn today the lessons that show was trying to teach us in 1955.
I will eagerly await your feedback.