When Jean and the kids at the school tell me that I’m supposed to control my violent temper, and be passive and nonviolent like they are, I try. I really try. Though when I see this girl… of such a beautiful spirit… so degraded… and this boy… that I love… sprawled out by this big ape here… and this little girl, who is so special to us we call her “God’s little gift of sunshine”… and I think of the number of years that she’s going to have to carry in her memory… the savagery of this idiotic moment of yours… I just go BERSERK!
Billy Jack 3:16
I remember seeing a commerical on TV for Billy Jack when I was bout eight years old. Even at that early age, the ad seemed a little bizarre. In it, the voicever gushed “Billy Jack has something special. Something that has to be seen to be understood.” It was an odd choice of words to accompany scenes of a guy in a funny hat kicking rednecks in the face.
Needless to say, the movie was a big hit among the kids in my elementary school, even with the ones whose parents wouldn’t let go see it (including mine). Like most chilren, we weren’t terribly interested in the film’s message of tolerance but for half a year the instances of playground face kicking went straight through the roof.
Years later, I got to understand that “something special” when I saw Billy Jack on cable. I can’t say that it is a great movie (nor good, nor even mediocre for that matter) but it did have an unmistakable appeal. The movie is a guilty pleasure much like Road House but without any 80s stench about it. Billy Jack may not have any fancy philosophy degree like Patrick Swayze’s character but he has both Native American ancestry and a Vietnam tour of duty under his belt. These qualities apparently gave him both great wisdom and excellent face-kicking ability.
As you’ve probably figured out, the face-kicking theme is one that has resonated with me. Perhaps this is because the movie speaks to the Billy Jack within all of us and what it says is this: We all need to kick a lot of faces because hippies can’t do it for themselves.