Friday, March 19, 2010

Post #666: The Devil in Fess Parker: On Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, and Walt Disney: every last one of 'em an unrepentant WHM Supremacist. (May they rust in piss.)

Alternate title for this blog post:
What do four D names might you call a White Serial Killer of "Injuns" or Misogynist, Racist Mythologiser of this Genocide?
Davy Crockett
Daniel Boone
The Devil
Walt Disney

What do you call remembering Crockett, Boone, and Disney? 
Nostalgia (for white U.S.ers)

What do you call Indigenous warriors who fought genocidal white men?
Unholy savages and committers of massacre against good men. Get how fucked up this all is yet?

(So, too long a blog post title, huh? Yeah, I thought so too.)

Sometimes, not at all infrequently, white het male culture repulses me. I am also taught, often successfully, to feel great fondness and affection for the culture that teaches us all that White is Right and Red should be Dead. This post is about that. And peripherally it's also about white boys' callousness and white men's cruelty to animals, specifically, here, raccoons.

For example, I find the image below sick and twisted, as it portrays the senseless murder of non-human animals by white men, and the murder of human beings by white men, as glorious and entertaining, and somehow NOT the atrocities they were and remain. But it don't stop with the portrayal and de-tailing of raccoons.

The murder of women, the murder of people of color, the senseless murder of non-human animals remains spectacle and sport by and for white folks and men folks. Each remain practices that were and are beloved by millions of whites and men across the U.S.A.(And we can note how often Black women and other women of color are fetishised in mass manly media as non-human animals for white het men's capture and consumption. (That's a subject for another post.)

From keeping rabbits' feet and raccoon tails as symbols of white cultural luck and accomplishment, to scalping Indigenous North Americans to corporate pimp-produced snuff films, white het men, in particular and without apology have, taken serial killing-- and related genocidal, gynocidal, and ecocidal atrocities--to new heights toward the brightly lit hell they mistake for heaven, ruled by their sky-god who they don't recognise as the Devil his-very-self.

This image of Fess Parker, with both a dead and a live raccoon on his head, is from here. Do you suppose those raccoons on and around him are wondering why he's wearing their murdered relative? Will they scratch his bloody eyes out for being such a callous prick? No, they LOVE and ADORE him. (Right. The one on the far left does appear to be wondering about this whole matter of the tail of her kin being draped alongside his neck.)

Below is a typical image of what was "spawned" from Fess Parker and Walt Disney's TV shows:

The image below is of the "characters" made lovingly famous by Fess Parker's acting. This, however, is a portrait of the actual Davy Crockett, genocidal serial killer of American Indians "extraordinaire" and is from here.

Next we have a portrait of the actual Daniel Boone, a proper portrait of a white man, shown with his weapon. It is from here.
Is it me, or do all genocidal white men look alike?

Here's some biographical information about Daniel Boone, from *here*.
The name Daniel Boone conjures up the image of an illiterate, coonskin cap-wearing patriot who settled Kentucky and killed countless Indians. The scarcity of surviving autobiographical material has allowed tellers of his story to fashion a Boone of their own liking, and his myth has evolved in countless stories, biographies, novels, poems, and paintings. In this welcome book, Meredith Mason Brown separates the real Daniel Boone from the many fables that surround him, revealing a man far more complex—and far more interesting—than his legend.
Brown traces Boone's life from his Pennsylvania childhood to his experiences in the militia and his rise as an unexcelled woodsman, explorer, and backcountry leader. In the process, we meet the authentic Boone: he didn't wear coonskin caps; he read and wrote better than many frontiersmen; he was not the first to settle Kentucky; he took no pleasure in killing Indians. At once a loner and a leader, a Quaker who became a skilled frontier fighter, Boone is a study in contradictions. Devoted to his wife and children, he nevertheless embarked on long hunts that could keep him from home for two years or more. A captain in colonial Virginia's militia, Boone later fought against the British and their Indian allies in the Revolutionary War before he moved to Missouri when it was still Spanish territory and became a Spanish civil servant. Boone did indeed kill Indians during the bloody fighting for Kentucky, but he also respected Indians, became the adopted son of a Shawnee chief, and formed lasting friendships with many Shawnees who once held him captive.

During Boone's lifetime (1734–1820), America evolved from a group of colonies with fewer than a million inhabitants clustered along the Atlantic Coast to an independent nation of close to ten million reaching well beyond the Mississippi River. Frontiersman is the first biography to explore Boone's crucial role in that transformation. Hundreds of thousands of settlers entered Kentucky on the road that Boone and his axemen blazed from the Cumberland Gap to the Kentucky River. Boone's leadership in the defense of Boonesborough during a sustained Indian attack in 1778 was instrumental in preventing white settlers from fleeing Kentucky during the bloody years of the Revolution. And Boone's move to Missouri in 1799 and his exploration up the Missouri River helped encourage a flood of settlers into that region. Through his colorful chronicle of Boone's experiences, Brown paints a rich portrayal of colonial and Revolutionary America, the relations between whites and Indians, the opening and settling of the Old West, and the birth of the American national identity.

Supported with copious maps, illustrations, endnotes, and a detailed chronology of Boone's life, Frontiersman provides a fresh and accurate rendering of a man most people know only as a folk hero—and of the nation that has mythologized him for over two centuries.
*            *            * 
In dominant U.S. society, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, and Christopher Columbus are three of the most celebrated, admired, and nostalgically remembered white het male serial killers to come to Turtle Island and vicinity. (CHRISTopher Columbus also pimped and raped Brown girls, so he gets a national holiday in The United Rapes of Amerikkka. Read more about THAT devilish dood *here*.) Note how there are coded terms and words throughout. "Crafty" means excellent at being a Murderous Killer of Indigenous North Americans. "Frontier" means stolen land soaked in Indian blood. "Settled" means taken with force, through atrocity, through genocide, through theft and deceit (foundational--and prevailing--values of our Founding White Het Fathers). To "settle" means to allow colonising, racist, heterosexist, misogynist whites to move further and further West on Turtle Island, domesticating human and non-human animals in that blood-soaked Earth in part for the purposes of creating the anti-environmental practice now known as U.S. American Agriculture. "Spirit" doesn't refer to the Great Spirit. It refers to white het men's sexxxualised passion for murdering everyone who isn't white and heterosexually male. You don't need Andrea Dworkin telling ya that white men fetishise murder and adore death (as long as the white men get to do the killing, that is, and are the "victors"). It's all here, folks. Just read it and weep.

Here's a little bit of Davy Crockett's story, as told by the victors, of course, the way all Good Amerikkkan History should be told (that's bitter sarcasm, folks):

Davy Crockett stands for the Spirit of the American Frontier. As a young man he was a crafty Indian fighter and hunter. When he was forty-nine years old, he died a hero's death at the Alamo, helping Texas win independence from Mexico. For many years he was nationally known as a political representative of the frontier.
In March, 1836, Davy Crockett, with 139 others, was massacred at the Alamo. Usually, in battles, someone is left to tell the story, but the Alamo had no one. One hundred and eighty-seven men for eleven days withstood the Mexican army of the despot, Santa Anna. When the battle was done, all of the one hundred eighty-seven brave Americans, including Davy Crockett, lay dead on the ground; but with them also lay over two thousand Mexicans, who had died at their hands.
Revered in film, television, and text are the lives of Davy Crockett, and Daniel Boone, both, ironically, played on TV by the very recently deceased white actor Fess Parker, whose fame also contributed to the murder of more raccoons for sales of their tails and hides on hats, than any other living human in the U.S. He is fondly remembered as "a childhood hero" by Vanity Fair writer, the very white Maureen Orth, in her tribute to the man and his work, found".

Fess Parker's own rendition of the ballad of Davy Crockett is less overtly genocidal than the full length version below. But in case you ain't never heard of Fess Parker, here he is, saluting this white serial killer of "Injuns". There are variations and versions of this song, none of them doing anything else than overtly promoting genocide. How... quaint??

Please don't sing along, but do listen for what was once a VERY popular dominant U.S. American song:

(Full Length)
Music by George Bruns
Lyrics by Tom Blackburn
© Disney. All rights reserved.

King of the Wild Frontier (USA 1955)
Fess Parker as Davy Crockett]
Born on a mountain top in Tennessee, greenest state in the land of the free
Raised in the woods so's he knew ev'ry tree, kilt him a b'ar when he was only three
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!

In eighteen thirteen the Creeks uprose, addin' redskin arrows to the country's woes
Now, Injun fightin' is somethin' he knows, so he shoulders his rifle an' off he goes
Davy, Davy Crockett, the man who don't know fear!

Off through the woods he's a marchin' along, makin' up yarns an' a singin' a song
Itchin' fer fightin' an' rightin' a wrong, he's ringy as a b'ar an' twic't as strong
Davy, Davy Crockett, the buckskin buccaneer!

Andy Jackson is our gen'ral's name, his reg'lar soldiers we'll put to shame
Them redskin varmints us Volunteers'll tame, 'cause we got the guns with the sure-fire aim
Davy, Davy Crockett, the champion of us all!

Headed back to war from the ol' home place, but Red Stick was leadin' a merry chase
Fightin' an' burnin' at a devil's pace, south to the swamps on the Florida Trace
Davy, Davy Crockett, trackin' the redskins down!

Fought single-handed through the Injun War, till the Creeks was whipped an' peace was in store
An' while he was handlin' this risky chore, made hisself a legend for evermore
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!

He give his word an' he give his hand, that his Injun friends could keep their land
An' the rest of his life he took the stand, that justice was due every redskin band
Davy, Davy Crockett, holdin' his promise dear!

Home fer the winter with his family, happy as squirrels in the ol' gum tree
Bein' the father he wanted to be, close to his boys as the pod an' the pea
Davy, Davy Crockett, holdin' his young'uns dear!

But the ice went out an' the warm winds came, an' the meltin' snow showed tracks of game
An' the flowers of Spring filled the woods with flame, an' all of a sudden life got too tame
Davy, Davy Crockett, headin' on West again!

Off through the woods we're ridin' along, makin' up yarns an' singin' a song
He's ringy as a b'ar an' twict as strong, an' knows he's right 'cause he ain' often wrong
Davy, Davy Crockett, the man who don't know fear!

Lookin' fer a place where the air smells clean, where the trees is tall an' the grass is green
Where the fish is fat in an untouched stream, an' the teemin' woods is a hunter's dream
Davy, Davy Crockett, lookin' fer Paradise!

Now he's lost his love an' his grief was gall, in his heart he wanted to leave it all
An' lose himself in the forests tall, but he answered instead his country's call
Davy, Davy Crockett, beginnin' his campaign!

Needin' his help they didn't vote blind, They put in Davy 'cause he was their kind
Sent up to Nashville the best they could find, a fightin' spirit an' a thinkin' mind
Davy, Davy Crockett, choice of the whole frontier!

The votes were counted an' he won hands down, so they sent him off to Washin'ton town
With his best dress suit still his buckskins brown, a livin' legend of growin' renown
Davy, Davy Crockett, the Canebrake Congressman!

He went off to Congress an' served a spell, fixin' up the Govern'ments an' laws as well
Took over Washin'ton so we heered tell, an' patched up the crack in the Liberty Bell
Davy, Davy Crockett, seein' his duty clear!

Him an' his jokes travelled all through the land, an' his speeches made him friends to beat the band
His politickin' was their favorite brand, an' everyone wanted to shake his hand
Davy, Davy Crockett, helpin' his legend grow!

He knew when he spoke he sounded the knell, of his hopes for White House an' fame as well
But he spoke out strong so hist'ry books tell, an' patched up the crack in the Liberty Bell
Davy, Davy Crockett, seein' his duty clear!

When he come home his politickin' done, the western march had just begun
So he packed his gear an' his trusty gun, an' lit out grinnin' to follow the sun
Davy, Davy Crockett, leadin' the pioneer!

He heard of Houston an' Austin so, to the Texas plains he jest had to go
Where freedom was fightin' another foe, an' they needed him at the Alamo
Davy, Davy Crockett, the man who don't know fear!

His land is biggest an' his land is best, from grassy plains to the mountain crest
He's ahead of us all meetin' the test, followin' his legend into the West
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier! 
*          *          *
The as yet not updated webpage for Fess Parker brags about his production role in the mythologising of the gentleman genocidalist, as well as the purchaser of stolen Indian land. Ah, mass media. When won't it take an opportunity to glorify mass murder and perpetrators of ecocidal atrocities?

Here's info about Fess's life and careers, from his website.

Actor Fess Parker of Santa Barbara, California has been called by some an American icon. His portrayal of frontiersmen Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone impacted millions of young viewers in the late 1950's and 60's.
In 1954, Walt Disney signed Parker to play the title role in Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier.
Daniel Boone TV SeriesIn 1964 Parker began filming his network television series, Daniel Boone. During six years as one of the highest rated shows of its time, Parker not only starred in the series but co-produced it and directed five of its most popular episodes. Parker continued to star in numerous box office hits for Disney, Paramount and Warner Brothers' Studios, while laying the foundation for his second career as real estate developer. 

Blending his gracious Texas hospitality and tremendous eye for real estate development, Parker built his first resort hotel in Santa Barbara in 1986. Set on 23.5 ocean front acres, Fess Parker's Double Tree Resort faces one of Santa Barbara's nicest beaches. Parker is planning to open a new luxury waterfront hotel in 2004, adjacent to 10 acres of public parkland donated by the Parker Family Trust.

Parker Winery and VineyardIn 1987, Parker purchased a 714 acre ranch thirty five miles north of Santa Barbara, in the Santa Ynez Valley, where he promptly set about planning and establishing Fess Parker's Winery & Vineyard. His son, Eli (Fess III), is President and Director of Winemaking & Vineyard Operations. His daughter, Ashley, is Vice President of Marketing & Sales.

And just in case t'weren't clear enough what white het men in power "ethically" and politically VALUE (and profit from), check out this other usage of the term "Davy Crockett", from *here*:
The M-28 or M-29 Davy Crockett Weapon System(s) was a tactical nuclear recoilless rifle for firing the M388 nuclear projectile that was deployed by the United States during the Cold War. It was named after American soldier, congressman and folk hero Davy Crockett (1786-1836).
I'm a'tellin' ya, folks, radical lesbian feminists couldn't make this CRAP up! And any white man who blames THEM as being "the problem" for pointing out what het men DO and VALUE doing must have their white het male heads on backwards, or, well, ought to. Preferably scalped.


queersingularity said...

What do you mean by describing Boone and Crockett as genocidal? I'm not sure that term serves you well here. Their two legacies and images have been used to support explicit white supremacy and ethnic cleansing, but the two historical figures themselves appear somewhat more nuanced. Both certainly fought and killed Amerindians. Crockett himself described the atrocities he participated in against the Creeks. However, he had little good to say about that part of his life. Though initially in Andrew Jackson's camp, he broke with the president over the Indian Removal Act. Similarly, in his old age Boone came to regret ever killing an Amerindian and said they had treated him better than any other people.

In this way, their two lives reveal the contradictions of serving U.S. empire. Boone in particular played a pivotal role in destroying the way of life he loved. Though far from the heroes they are remembered as, I wouldn't throw them together with bosses like Columbus and Jackson.

Regardless, I applaud you for drawing attention to the racism, sexism, and violence associated with these figures.

Julian Real said...

Hi queersingularity,

I very much appreciate you comment. I agree that perhaps those who come to see their atrocious behavior earlier in life, but come to regret it and have remorse for it shouldn't necessarily be lumped in with unrepentant genocidalists and gynocidalists.

I think what I was responding to was how these men, in the U.S. imagination, are known for being U.S. folk heroes, Western white warriors fighting "the good fight" against savages. And "savages", unfortunately, doesn't mean "capitalistic white male supremacists".

Growing up these fellows, along with George Washington and Teddy Roosevelt, were presented to me as some kind of hero. I think we can do better in finding heroes, than searching out the white men who later feel remorse for the atrocious things they did.

There are millions of women whose non-atrocious work goes unpaid and unrecognised, who do heroic things all the time, daily, but will never obtain the status and prestige and legend that white men who have killed Indigenous people have.

Why is that?

But, bottom line, I guess making that distinction could be useful.

I think about being the son of the woman who was killed by Boone or Crockett, or the brother of the sisters who were slaughtered by them, and I wonder if I'd really care that much if they realised later in life that what they once did was "wrong" and "atrocious". I don't know the answer to that.

As a white Jew, I can say that stories about Nazis who turn good make me ill. "Schindler" saved some Jewish lives, and had the power to destroy them instead. That doesn't make him a hero. That makes him a humane being.

I know lots of humane beings. None of 'em will ever be called heroes.

I want a higher/greater/deeper standard for "who gets called a hero", and Boone and Crockett don't meet my criteria. Here's some of what's on my list of things that make you a hero:

1. You can't be white and have killed anyone of color.

2. You can't be a man and have raped or beaten or killed any woman or girl.

Now, with those two points alone, most people who are deemed "heroic" fall off the charts, right?

Julian Real said...

I think a white man who intentionally plans to kill people of color and does so, in a context of "ethnic cleansing" is behaving as a genocidalist. Boone and Crockett meet that criteria. One can be a genocidalist and then stop. But that doesn't erase the harm done. That doesn't bring the dead back to life.

But I agree with this:

What do you mean by describing Boone and Crockett as genocidal? I'm not sure that term serves you well here. Their two legacies and images have been used to support explicit white supremacy and ethnic cleansing, but the two historical figures themselves appear somewhat more nuanced. Both certainly fought and killed Amerindians. Crockett himself described the atrocities he participated in against the Creeks. However, he had little good to say about that part of his life. Though initially in Andrew Jackson's camp, he broke with the president over the Indian Removal Act. Similarly, in his old age Boone came to regret ever killing an Amerindian and said they had treated him better than any other people.

In this way, their two lives reveal the contradictions of serving U.S. empire. Boone in particular played a pivotal role in destroying the way of life he loved. Though far from the heroes they are remembered as, I wouldn't throw them together with bosses like Columbus and Jackson.

It's just that I think it's a very profound level of privilege, that in my experience is both white and male, that allows one to fuck up so badly, to commit such heinous crimes against humanity, and come out the other end being considered heroic, or, even, "good".

No Black Panther Party member who killed (or was only accused of killing) a white man will be honored in dominant society as "heroic", nor will any woman prostitute who off's her pimp and a few of her procurers, nor will the woman who shoots her batterer husband in the head while he sleeps, to protect herself from him killing her which he threatens to do daily. But I see those people as profoundly politically and socially heroic. I see any Indigenous person who resists white male supremacy as heroic, and I'd much rather give blog space to them as heroes, than to white het men who once upon a time thought it was cool to murder "Injuns".

queersingularity said...

Jackson's policy can reasonably be described as genocidal. Some scholars dispute this, but the man's own words make things rather clear. He framed Indian removal as a way to save the Indians from fatal competition with the superior white race. At best you could say that in his own mind he opted for ethnic cleansing to prevent genocide. Wonderful dude.

Crockett supported Jackson materially and politically in the first part of his life, though judging by his later reaction to the Indian Removal Act I don't know if he ever backed the general's full racial ideology. (The same can be said, I'm sure, for various Nazis. This excuses nothing.)

Connecting Boone to a specific policy of genocide or ethnic cleansing in the context of his time would be more difficult. In close relationship with the Shawnee makes it hard to claim he wanted to see them wiped out. By poaching on Indian land and leading the way for white settlement, he certainly supported such policies in the long run, so perhaps the distinction doesn't really matter.

I fully agree with your restrictions on the hero list. The violent, racist, and sexist icons Americans hold dear tell you much about the country. I even question the reverence paid to many leftist champions. Che, for example, probably violated both of your prohibitions. And his revolution crushed the Cuban anarchist movement. At same time, though, as a symbol against capitalism and imperialism he continues to resonate. I don't know the correct way to interact with his legacy.