on the good badness of westerns

Lone_Ranger_and_Tonto_1956John Crutchfield at berfrois:

The Lone Ranger, by any adult standard, is a terrible show. In fact, it is of a terribleness scarcely to be believed. The dialogue is composed in a language no man ever spoke, nor should he attempt to. The sentences have all the pliability of driftwood, but none of the interesting shapes and textures. The voice-over during the overture is a prodigy of expository compression (“He was a fabulous individual!”). The characters are of a piece with the language: everybody is One Thing, and come hell or high water, They Do Not Change. If you have the misfortune to be a bad guy, you might as well enjoy it while you can, because the narrative will grant you no hope of reform. If you’re a good guy, say adios to anything that might help you resemble an actual human being: a moment of doubt or weakness, a capacity for actual emotions, a troubled conscience—not a chance. You won’t even be granted a little good old-fashioned blood-lust, for as the first episode makes clear, you will “Shoot to wound, not to kill. For killing is wrong.” Suffice it to say that the acting, directing, costume and set-design, editing, sound engineering—all are so hideously clunky that (you know where I’m going with this) they’re almost kind of good.

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