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IN REM Kung Fu Defended Austin I didn’t bring this up. This was brought up in the Feb. 12 issue of Newsweek by someone using the penname “Cyclops” to write television criticism. This Cyclops person up and criticized Kung Fu, which was his first mistake. Now if this mistake hadn’t caught up, in its way, every single thing wrong with American Malay high low pop counter and instant culture and all other kinds of culture everywhere which don’t come to mind right away, then I wouldn’t bother you with it. But it did. It did, my children. Kung Fu is a television series starring David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine, an American-Chinese halfbreed who back in the old days in China killed a deserving victim who happened to be the emperor’s nephew. This event occurred, as near as I can place it, sometime in the late 1860’s. Well, things took their inexorable course. Caine lit out for America to do some heavy wandering \(“What will you do?”/”Wander offered a Chinese reward and issued rudimentary wanted posters. Caine is a priest. He is also inscrutable he was trained in China. But all these wild west guys just blunder right in trying to scrute him. They all do it. Oh God, think of the ramifications for real life! But the thing about Caine is that everything is right there on the surface, right where you can see it. It’s your responsibility to learn how to look. If Caine wanted Oreos, you could see it right there in his eyes, if you knew how to look. All of this is enhanced by what Ed calls “night-school notions about Buddha, Confucius and Lao-tse” and “the artiest camera work on television today.” Caine has vivid slow-motion flashbacks to China and his friends and teachers there. When he’s forced to use his dread kung fu powers, a lot of the action is in slowmotion. It’s stylized all right. It’s pretentious all right_ Other things which are stylized and pretentious: Ulysses, Hawaii Five-0, Shakespeare, Pepsi-Cola. 22 The Texas Observer Things not stylized or pretentious: trees, venereal disease. And if you want to get deep into mahayana Buddhism, you’re out of luck. Occasionally Caine tries to look up his Occasionally he straightens out some of the petty downbeat conflicts of the people he wanders among. Not that he’s pushy; he just gets forced into it. And, about once per episode, Caine does something really spectacular like walk through a pit of rattlesnakes. Not a feeble dozen or so; this was a good forty rattlesnakes Western Diamondback, if I’m not mistaken, Crotalus atrox. Which is to say, “our most dangerous snake” \(A. H. Wright and A. A. Wright, Handbook of Snakes, Cornell Caine has never read Wright and Wright, of course, but he understands. These are heavy snakes. Quickly he flashes back to China where he learned that snakes were just like everybody else, just trying to get by. I mean, he knows these snakes. And he respects them. He takes the long walk slowly, carefully, clearly not wanting to step on his brothers because, clearly, he does not want to hurt them. ED, ON THE other hand, used to review television for Life. Now he’s moved to Newsweek. Newsweek calls him a “provocative . . . critic” of “the most powerful cultural force in the United States today.” Ed’s ideas: First rate program: Carol Burnett Insulting rhetoric: “[X has] plots dreamed up by empty Coke bottles.” Acceptable reason for watching: “You learn something.” Characteristic terminology: “tube-boobie.” To be candid: Ed has never had an interesting idea about television in his life. But that’s all right. When he went stomping through the snakes, one Crotalus atrox would let him have it. It’s even all right that he has this position of power to abuse: why fight it? But Ed’s simple-minded moral attitude is representative. It is found not only in most other television criticism, but also in almost all discussions of television. At a recent meeting of what I took to be the possibility of getting a public access channel out of the local cable company didn’t even want to ask whether all this meant they were going to take off THE ROOKIES, so oppressive was the atmosphere of doing good and fixing “the community.” Not everyone there shared opposing views were clearly not going to receive a fair hearing. One person who seemed to be asking intelligent questions \(which, unfortunately, ran counter to the mood of the moment: Does the FCC have any authentic power to enforce its regulations? Is Austin in the top 100 markets to which a specific regulation met with polite distaste. I am not opposed to public access in concept after all, there’re plenty of channels it is only that one can intuit what public access in practice is likely to look and sound like: Florida is, in fact, the seat of the uptight national sickness of glare-ism. Everywhere you look GLARE and much of it unconscious. Well, the solution to this vicious community problem has been worked out in our eclectic Rogerian personal-growth groups in which we became less concerned with leaders and individuals and our self-esteem was lowered. We have decided to throw Florida into the Gulf of Mexico, with a big rock tied on to make sure it stays down. Of course we’re meeting resistance from the facists and their dupes, the citizens of Florida, but the people will win out we’re digging at night.