Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sons of Anarchy

I just watched the 4th Season of the biker drama series, Sons of Anarchy.  I watched the first three seasons when I bought them at out door booth at Sturges North in British Columbia.

Steppenwolf and Animals, playing on stage that weekend,  will forever be associated with that time.

The Hell's Angels were there along with the RCMP.  Alot of Vets had ridden in too. I loved best the Vets Run that week.  Made me proud to own a bike and ride with those Canadian guys who'd served in Kandahar.

Sons of Anarchy is this drama series with lots of motorcycles. I ride a Harley Davidson Electraglide.  It's almost mandatory that we watch Sons of Anarchy.  It's like ranchers watching Bonanza except the Sons of Anarchy are the bad boys.  They really are.  The women are 'old ladies'.  It's a weird 'matriarchy' with adolescent emotionally stunted men and biker mommas.  Lots of cultural and gang innuendos but the police forces come off looking shady and the town of Charmings, California business men don't look much better.

It's part of that new 'family' as God cult in Hollywood these days. Following on the "Breaking Bad" tradition where dad is a chemist turned meth lab criminal.   Mafiosa adolescent thinking.  The kind of stunted emotional growth spiritually bankrupt material we have come to expect from Hollywood. Lots of questions about the 'message' and really questionable 'ethics' and 'morality'.  It's Dirty Harry except the bad guy has the glock and the message is always the same, me.  I don't know if it's got any 'reality' to it but it's way better than the pathetic  'reality shows'.  I sometimes watch the really good bike show where the family makes choppers and I like especially the two guys who blow up things as "myth busters'.  This has a little of that kind of feel but in addition it's  really great drama. That's mostly the product of the really great acting and characters of Katey Sagel and Maggie Siff.

I confess I love Hollywood for all the special effects and especially all of the variations on  chases. It must be the dog in me but something about chases in movies and tv gets me going.   Sons of Anarchy has one of best of all,   a Hearse chasing a Harley Davidson Motorcycle.  Not just a great and novel chase scene but marvellous symbolism even the stuck up European movie makers would envy.

Life is cheap in Charming.  Revenge is what it's all about.  Might is right.  There's no elevation of the soul.  This is knuckle dragging low brow brute crime drama made magnificent by creator Kurt Sutter.

Charlie Hunnan plays the protagonist "Jax" Teller whose mother is Gemma Teller Morrow played by the Oscar award deserving  Katey Sagal. Jax's girlfriend is neonatal surgeon Tara Knowles played by the talented and truly beautiful Maggie Siff. Ron Pealman plays Clay Morrow, Gemma's partner the motorcycle gang pres and the step father of Jax.  Episode to episode we see Jax twisting and growing while Clay gets rawer and rawer.

In the background historically is 'John" , Jax's father, the Vietnam Vet who began the motorcycle group and died questionably when he wanted to keep it out of the downward crime spiral of the Irish Republican Army.  The boys are fighting black gangs and mex gangs and each other and just generally being robustly juvenile with all manner of great motorcycle riding scenes. The real drama though revolves around Gemma a conspiring  mother hen.  Tara, brilliant and "loyal in love", a trule sensitive getting harder,  is brought into the orbit of Gemma and Clay by her love for confused  bad boy Jax. 

The show is a surprisingly complex entertainment with enough 'guy' stuff and 'girl' stuff to keep a highly mixed audience.  At times I feel like I'm watching the very best afternoon soap opera with Jerry Springer somewhere in the wings conspiring with Oprah then next thing I'm transported to the best guy drama expecting Schwartzenagger, Mel Gibson and  Bruce Willis to suddenly ride up on motorcycles to join in the latest Glock and Rocket Launcher fray.  

Alright I'm hooked.  4 seasons.  There's another to go and maybe one more.  All the characters are amazingly drawn and cast.  It's unfair just to mention the core ones because the sub plots with Jax 's friend Opie and his Porn Star girlfriend, the dirty land developer, the pot head  police chief in love with Gemma but dying of cancer, the scarred cool cat Cartel leader, the lonely intellectual US attorney, they're all really fascinating characters.  Rich and diverse personalities.  Great bikes.

I love it.  But it's not real.  It's Hollywood's fascination and promotion of the criminal.  It's the make a buck off the James Dean illusion, it's their fantasies of 'noble savages'.  What it comes down to is a lot of damaged people hurting alot of people and Hollywood the most damaged of all. But God it's fun to watch.  I 'm reminded of my first microscope and my fascination looking at the bugs in some dirt water. 

Sons of Anarchy certainly appeals to the psychiatrist and addiction medicine specialist in me.  Makes me think that there's a lot more work for us in Hollywood than all the country could afford. As for the Sons, I love their bikes.  I love the tattooed old ladies.  I especially love  Gemma and Tara.

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