Consider this post my trash bin, things that I have wanted to write about, but which just don’t pan out well.
The above video is about the character “Henry Standing Bear,” Walt Longmire’s lifelong best friend in the Longmire series. He is played (very convincingly) by Lou Diamond Phillips. I thoroughly enjoyed his work throughout the series’ six seasons.
Phillips is of half-Philippine extraction, the other half Scotch-Irish. It is a longstanding movie tradition that Native Americans be played by non-Natives. This does not bother me as it might others. I have seen many white people dressed up as Indians, even one Jewish comedian/director.
In the Longmire series, Henry Standing Bear represented the best qualities of the Cheyenne people. He was honest, strong, deep in personal integrity and highly moral.
This photo is taken from Episode 10 of Season 6 of the series, the closing episode. In a moving closing montage, loose ends are tied up to the tune of Lord Huron’s Ends of the Earth. Walt Longmire and his deputy, Vic, hook up after what one person called “the longest slow burn in TV history.” Walt’s daughter runs for sheriff, and Deputy “The Ferg” summons up the courage to sweep his former lover off her feet after a nasty breakup.
And this scene. Henry is now running a casino. Never mind that he was a bar owner near a reservation throughout, in the closing episode Jacob Nighthorse, the casino owner who is going to prison, asks Henry to take it over. Walt, who was opposed to a casino on the reservation throughout the series, says it’s a good idea. “Who are you, and what have you done with Walt Longmire?,” asks Henry.
The selling point here is that a casino on an Indian reservation becomes a good idea when a good man is in charge. Never mind that people lose their hard-earned money, even their life savings, in such places, or that casinos are magnets for people addicted to gambling. Never mind that they are used for prostitution, money laundering and that alcohol fuels the gambling instinct. Henry is a good man, and the casino provides jobs. All is well.
That bugged me about Longmire. I think it is called putting lipstick on a pig.
This, believe it or not, is linked to Henry Standing Bear running a casino. Years ago I was listening to a radio talk show, and the guest was promoting gambling in some fashion, either a casino or Montana’s video poker market. But he didn’t call it “gambling.” That has a bad connotation, one of addiction and broke losers and people losing their savings to smiling sociopaths in expensive suits. Instead, he called it “gaming.”
So they had consulted with PR people to solve an image problem. “Change the name,” they were told. Don’t call it gambling, and it ceases to be gambling. I called into that radio show and told them (on the air) that it was not “gaming,” but “gambling” they were promoting, and that they ought to use the right term. It was humorous, after that, to hear them stumble over the word “gaming” and then saying “or gambling.” I had an effect.
So Henry Standing bear is involved in gaming, not gambling, and for that reason, it is OK.
That empties my waste basket on this beautiful Monday in snow-packed Colorado. We are knee-deep. Time for a road trip.