Have you seen this film, Gran Torino? Confession: I'm suffering from both projection and transference (forgive my psycho- babble) when it comes to this icon like man and this character, Walt; he shares a lot of behavior, and attitude traits with my father. I read that the story has a simple (simplistic?) plot, but I cannot agree. Clint's character is realistically placed in a Midwest house on a block undergoing a population change, and in my experience it resonates as historically and socially true.
I grew up around guns and I learned to handle a rifle in my early teens, which is when I noticed my own value conflict. My father was a hunter; I was against hunting; though, I shot pumpkins carefully balanced on fence post with a 22 caliber rifle. I also shot a BB gun in the backfield with my brother and cried over the occasional bird he and our cousins would shoot. "C won't let you shoot birds...you can't even burn a spider when she's around," Richie would tell his buddies. He was both proud and amused at my 'animal protector' stance. My younger brother, Richie, "my Buddie", I sometimes called him, would occasionally hang out with me. As an outdoor type "tomboy", I valued his friendship. I think he felt a lot of pressure to be "powerful" like our dad. He was wild and controlled by his temper; and yet, he was sweet and took care of me. too. In anger, his face would turn red, and it spread all the way to his ears. I would hold him down until he promised that he wouldn't go crazy and hit the offending person -sister, usually. I would release him when his ears returned to their normal color. He hated to be teased; and being the youngest and sole boy in a family of girls, we couldn't help playing pretty girl dress-up and re-naming him "Regina Sue"-as all four girls were middle-named Sue after our mother. My brother's actual name was Richard Alfred, Jr. as he was named after our father. Do you remember that Johnny Cash song "A boy named Sue?" (video posted below) It took on a special significance in our house.
My father gave me a feeling of strength and confidence in a distant and safe manner. He was respected as a powerful authority in our home, "Just wait until your dad gets home" were the dreaded words of my childhood. When I was about 14 years old, he changed. He gave up the throne of discipline. Both social and family life had changed, it was the 70's and Mom became a "women's libber" as did her girls. I suppose the gender role shift impacted Dad, too because he did not want to be the corporal "arm of justice" in our house anymore. But the imprint of a father's power stayed with me. And this father power-surprisingly found it's way into me when my children were born. I identified with his strength and became strong in that protective manner.
'Gran Torino' Stills - Photo Gallery on Yahoo! Movies
I am not going to ruin the conclusion because the movie is relatively new and many of you may not have seen it yet. However, I will contend that the ending is true to life. As I mentioned earlier, my father underwent a similar transformation in his attitude towards violence and prejudice. Now that both of my parents are gone, I so miss having a Protector (in the form of a person) in my life. I will leave you with Johnny Cash and "A Boy Named Sue."