Yes, yes, obviously I’ve heard of Steve McQueen.
It’s just that I’ve always assumed that he was some sort of fashion designer, like Marc Jacobs or Michael Kors.
And then Cars came out, and someone told me Lightning McQueen was named for him, because he was cool and loved to race cars. Okay. Filed him under “someone similar to Paul Newman” and that was it.
I wasn’t a big fan of American TV shows and movies when I was growing up. My parents were crazy for Shaw Brothers action flicks; eventually we rented nothing but Jackie Chan and Jet Li movies from the neighborhood betamax rental place. I graduated to Mark Gor and got far too enamored with triad films.
The only American actor I knew in my younger years — apart from my beloved Adam West and Burt Ward — was Charlton Heston, aka that dude who made television unwatchable during Holy Week.
[Quick story: Burt Ward was my first crush. The first one I can actually remember, I mean. For at least a year, I was convinced that Ringo Starr’s You’re Sixteen was our theme song. Eww, I know. Sorry. I was eight.]
I think I was in fifth grade already when I started paying attention to American TV and movies. I watched whatever my older cousins watched, like Star Trek (the one with Patrick Stewart, not Shatner). It wasn’t until Buffy the Vampire Slayer that I was really into it, though.
[Let’s keep the “I’m an idiot” theme alive, shall we? Second quick story: for a very long time I was convinced that Data from Star Trek was called Liberace. Like that’s his name, instead of Data. I have no idea why I believed this. And I didn’t find out about my mistake until I was 28 fucking years old. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.]
So it’s not like I ever had a chance to like Westerns, you know?
No one in my family was interested in cowboys. Chow Yun Fat’s Mark Gor was the gunslinger of my young life; why would I even need to watch foreign films to get my bang bang fix?
More importantly, my first brush with a Western was dismal. Horrifying. Traumatic.
I’m talking about Back to the Future 3.
I loved the first movie. I loved it so so so much. These days, I still stop to watch whenever I chance upon it on TV.
But that third movie? Ugh. No. Never.
And so it wrecked cowboys for me.
Until I watched Justified.
I refuse to shut up about this show, because no one I know offline has seen it and I am pissed and I want to talk to people about Boyd Crowder and Raylan Givens and how they should run away and just live happily ever after together. Preferably still shooting people from time to time, of course. (I also want to talk about Tim Gutterson, but that’s a different matter altogether. Hormones are involved.)
That said, I suppose I should mention Firefly first. I didn’t even realize it then, because I’m that dense. I was so focused on the futuristic/space age portion that I flat out didn’t think of the fact that Mal is a space cowboy. (And I’m a space cadet, as it turns out.)
It says that right on the tin, and I ignored it.
That’s when I decided that I actually like Westerns. I like the sassy heroes. I like the smarmy villains. I like the murky gray area of morality they all tread. Best of all, I like how they just shoot everything and everyone in sight. (Also, my favorite triad movie forever, Exiled, is pretty much a classic Western set in Macau.)
So I decided that it was time to rectify my mistakes. It was time for re-education.
I went on Netflix and watched The Magnificent Seven.
And that’s how it happened.
In the first few scenes of the movie I was like, okay, that’s the King and I guy. And then Steve McQueen comes onscreen and acts all sassy and cool and… well… maybe this gif does the explaining better:
[Note: I’ve seen Seven Samurai, but it’s not my favorite Kurosawa film. I like Ran best.]
I am so smitten with Steve McQueen that it’s threatening to derail my re-education. I was supposed to watch The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly next, but now I just want to look up all of his movies and watch him out-cool everyone.
My question now is rather odd: am I allowed to fangirl about a dead person? Is that acceptable? Is it not weird to be smitten with someone who is no longer alive?
I’m dead serious about this, guys.