These long, hot afternoons provide terrific opportunities to catch up on a good book or movie indoors – and many of us partake. In a particularly old-school kind of a way, this past weekend delivered a handful of Clint Eastwood films. Two with him as an actor and two as a director. Overall, they were good fun. As the weather turned to storms and our current circumstances tend to keep us home, abundant time allowed for the luxury of watching the extra features often included with DVDs and even some online services. Both of the modern flicks, “The 15:17 to Paris” and “Richard Jewell,” told the stories of the filmmakers and the true-life protagonists in the movies, often labeled as “Boy Scouts” in passing.
The first recounts the events of three young Americans who stop a terrorist while on vacation heading to Paris. And we remember Richard Jewell as the hapless hero who saved countless lives in a bombing at the Atlanta Summer Olympic Games in 1996. Needing a quick solution to restore confidence in the public and to avoid global shaming, the media and FBI found a convenient scapegoat in the law-and-order Jewell. After wrongly initiating what would become a gratuitous public spectacle, the government arrested the actual bomber with a full, if not boastful, confession. Jewell died of heart failure at age 44.
The actors and crew posited that Jewell was too much of a “Boy Scout” to be believed. Scouts and their parents will remember that a Scout aspires to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. The cynicism of the government’s agent might reflect experience. But might not it also reflect that one who lives a life without character cannot imagine another where it is not only imagined, but lived?