RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Friday, April 12

SONG OF THE DAY: Shu Ba Da Dum Ma Ma Ma Ma (kudzu’d)

[A critical micro-analysis of the final chase scene from White Lightning, as submitted to The University of Universal Magnetics by Raven Mack, as part of my thesis on Southern Gothicc Futurism.]
White Lightning came out in the summer of 1973, and was part of a ‘70s genre of white lower class antihero movies. Burt Reynolds was in his initial wave of stardom after the success of Deliverance the year before, and played a former moonshine runner who was seeking vengeance in the murder of his brother, killed by local police. Placed alongside current politics, the movie stands in sharp contrast to today’s performative outlaw imagery that many white men have purchased as their identity, that somehow makes the dissonant alignment of “outlaw” with “backing the blue”, or supporting law enforcement. Reynolds’ character, Gator McKlusky, is a true outlaw, and has the prison record to show for it. Gator uses federal agents, under the guise of being a cooperative witness, to get a souped up Ford Custom 500, and eventually lures the corrupt sheriff, played by Ned Beatty, into a climactic car chase. Knowing every back road to the mile, despite his time away in prison, McKlusky is able to slowly lure the sheriff to going over an embankment and drowning in the river. In post-MAGA crime-fearing politics, the notion of killing a policeman would be never be seen in good light, much celebrated as a heroic victory, but White Lightning lays out the tale to our antihero’s benefit.
All media is propaganda of some sort, attuned to the creator’s biases, whether consciously or unconsciously. Rarely these days do we see underclass heroes who are positioned against corrupt authorities that are realistic and present day, thus easily translatable to real life corruption. It’s more often than not filtered through science fiction, against technological overreach or distant corrupt systems of power that are more globalized than localized. But the reality of the American experience is that those of us who suffer abuses at the hands of an ever-expanding police state do so at the localized level. It’s refreshing to see a folkloric antihero succeeding against the type of corrupt county sheriff that still very much exists in far more rural American counties than the average digitally news attuned brain could comprehend. And with local journalism pretty much gutted by venture capitalism and the movement to digital news sources over the past couple decades, any stories of local corruption are mostly word-of-mouth.
The end of White Lightning is a memorial parade for the dead sheriff, which Gator watches before driving off into the sunset. He didn’t actually cooperate with the feds, remaining true to his outlaw nature as a former moonshiner. The local people, unaware of the reality behind the scenes, still celebrated the sheriff, believing he stood for law and order in a decent way. These would be the MAGA people today, who somehow are the political marks standing alongside the parade route, waving flags for a corrupted leader, yet they believe in their minds, due to the propaganda they consume, that they are the Gator McKlusky, and antihero. It makes no logical sense. But in a world where the propaganda’s biases are far more pronounced, yet denied to an even greater extent, it’s hard to avoid. We’ve been culturally conditioned to think up is down, wrong is right, and openly corrupt leadership is a savior from corruption. We need more Gators, but all we seem to be served up are more flag-waving extras jockeying for digital position to watch the parade march by.

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