Hugh Macleod’s absence and return from Twitter, along with the gang activity surrounding the incident, point to rough form of civilization that rules the day on the network. Perhaps it’s Hugh’s current sojourn in Texas that brings to mind the John Ford film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence. Many think of it as just another John Wayne western, but it’s a thoughtful meditation on how a civil society emerges from the Hobbesian war of everyman against everyman. Deadwood, David Milch’s series on HBO, provided a similar chronicle of a gold rush town after the Civil War. The story is told again and again, Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai gives it to us from another angle.
What are we to do when confronted with violence? Turn the other cheek? Active counter measures? Gang warfare? Diplomacy? Each day as the network unfolds before us, we measure our responses. In John Ford’s films, John Wayne plays the character on the edge of civilization. In the end, he’s sacrificed so that we can make some small moral progress. The blood on Wayne’s hands prevents him from joining us, even as he has enabled our safety and security.