Archive for ‘Rifleman’

May 10, 2009

Just call me Lucas, ma’am

A post about “cowboy values” at The American Thinker inspires Pundette to muse at the Hot Air Green Room:

So mamas, go git yurself some Westerns fur yur young ‘uns to watch this weekend. Ah’m right parshull to the television series The Rifleman. In addition to the qualities above, Lucas McCain and the folks in North Fork believe in personal responsibility, risk-taking, hard work, and no cussin’ in front of the womenfolk.

Ah, The Rifleman! Arguably (and yes, I know this will inspire fierce arguments from fans of “Gunsmoke”) the best television Western ever. It debuted the year before I was born, ran for five seasons, played in re-runs forever, and the delightful coincidence of the protagonist’s surname meant that I spent years answering to, “Hey, Lucas!”

For those too young to remember, here is the famous opening sequence, followed by the closing credits:

Like other frontier icons of that era — Fess Parker as Davy Crockett, for example — Lucas McCain was an ideal role model, a paragon of virtue. His actions were always just. His words were always wise. And the Rifleman was utterly fearless.

Manly courage was the essence of Lucas McCain. It didn’t matter how numerous the bad guys were, Lucas was never going to be intimidated. Why? Because he knew he was fighting on the side of right.

Lucas McCain was always the friend of the helpless, always a defender of the weak, always the righteous avenger of those done wrong by the selfish and vicious. And the series took pains to show that Lucas was, by nature, peaceful and amiable. He had a cheerful sense of humor, and could always smile at the mischief of his boy, Mark. There was a poignant nostalgia in his heart for his late wife.

That Lucas was a widower — a key scriptwriter’s convenience he shared with many another fatherly protagonist of the 1950s and ’60s — allowed for the development of romantic subplots. There frequently seemed to be some lovestruck schoolmarm in need of rescue, and you could be sure that in his conduct toward her, Lucas McCain would be impeccably honorable, the embodiment of medieval courtliness transposed to the rustic terms of the 19th-century American frontier.

He was loved by women because Lucas was a man’s man. This aspect of the Rifleman’s character expresses a great truth that I would advise any young man to contemplate: If you wish to be admired by women, conduct yourself in such a way as to win the respect of men.

You will always notice that the man who is genuinely popular with women is not a selfish, dishonest, cowardly loner, but is the sort of frank, generous and cheerful comrade who is always a welcome companion to his fellow man. He is a team player, always ready in the hour of crisis, and modest enough not to care whether he receives public credit for his good deeds. He does what is right because it is right, confident that his true merit will be known among those courageous souls who shared the burden of his labors.

Lucas McCain was not a show-off, not a braggart, not a bully. He never lied, he never quit. His quiet confidence inspired others to hope that humble virtue must ultimately triumph over arrogant evil. He never started a fight, and always sought to avert violence, so long as it could be averted without dishonor or injustice. But when it was time to fight, he was never afraid, and when the fight was over, the bad guys were always vanquished. The good, the true and the right were vindicated. And Lucas was standing tall.

Which is to say, he was not remotely like David Brooks.

Having just completed the celebration of National Offend A Feminist Week, I should point out that I often fall woefully short of the high mark set by Lucas McCain. Yet I alway know where the mark is set, you see.

Therefore, I agree wholeheartedly with Pundette. If you want your sons or grandsons to have a role model of old-fashioned manly virtue, The Rifleman is the man for the job.