After an unusually long absence, our “hero” returns…
While shuffling around online, a feature on 2008’s best quotes caught my eye. A little investigation threw up the predictable offerings: Alaska’s “Hockey Mom” par excellence, Zimbabwe’s “leader”, and various British tabloid attention-seekers. A list of the ten best quotes from No Country For Old Men would’ve easily outshined* this paltry collection. That list’s top three might look something like this:
Wendell - “It’s a mess, ain’t it, sheriff?”
Sheriff Bell - “If it ain’t, it’ll do ‘til the mess gets here.”
Chigruh - “Don’t put it in your pocket. It’s your lucky quarter.”
Garage Attendant - “Well, where do you want me to put it?”
Chigurh - “Anywhere. Not in your pocket or it’ll get mixed in with the others and become just a coin. Which it is.”
Llewelyn Moss - “Sugar?”
But enough of that. List bad, Coens good. So what’s the point, Ian? Well, how can any list of the year’s best quotes (pejorative to the max, in this case) exclude what follows? In September, Rose McGowan was interviewed at the premiere of the film 50 Dead Men Walking, set during the Northern Irish Troubles.** McGowan, who stars in the film as Ethnic McLoveInterest, said that her “heart just broke for the cause.” Said cause being the very same one that almost ended Dave Mustaine at a 1988 Megadeth gig in County Antrim care of Angry Loyalists: the IRA. The Grindhouse star went on to add “violence is not to be played out daily and provide an answer to problems. But I understand it.”
Right, so what Jenna Maroney - I mean, Rose McGowan - really meant was “murder is a necessary evil.” Sure, she wouldn’t have dared say it outright. Enter the paraphrase. Unionist politician Billy Armstrong dismissed her remarks as “foolish and offensive.” Others were vocal. For a change, I agreed with them.*** Sure, it’s all too easy to snipe at isolated ballyhoo such as this, but it’s also an important process. Ten years ago, no-one of McGowan’s position would’ve dared pull a stunt like that. And with good cause. Nowadays, with the sound of Ulster's guns swapped for those of the Middle East, it’s all the more inviting for opinions such as these to slip out.
Armstrong’s right. McGowan shot for enlightenment and revealed only ignorance. If this sounds obvious, count yourself lucky. You’re smart and well-adjusted. Comments like McGowan’s are emblematic of a wider, archaic American myth about Irish Republicanism. The IRA weren’t the Rebel Alliance, “fighting the good fight” against the Evil Empire. Only those without sin may cast the first stone. She doesn’t understand what Republicans have increasingly learned over recent years: Talk is the way forward. As long as some thought goes into what comes out, that is.
* I’m well aware it should be outshone. Soundgarden’s magnificence laughs in the face of grammar.
** If you’ve already heard this, keep reading anyway. This ain’t a font for breaking news.
*** I’m not a bigot. Persuasion/upbringing/which Old Firm club I support hasn’t influenced this post.
Ian Pratt would surely have bonded over a mutual love of lists with Kurt Cobain. He would also like to acknowledge and thank Empire magazine and BBC News for fact-checking purposes. Oh, and wish everyone a Happy New Year!