High Noon; or, Cramer Stewart CNBC Cowboy Stamp Showdown

by cowboylands

The New York Times isn’t above reaching for hyperbolic language like a grocery store rag. I couldn’t help discovering–OK everything even remotely related to the West gets shot to my e-mail like a .44 caliber bullet so I can read these things greedily as if they were pulp novels, of which I have over three hundred in case you didn’t know–I couldn’t help discovering that the NYT‘s version of the Jim Cramer/Jon Stewart face-off was titled “High Noon.” 

Appropriate? Or another mismanaged use of Cowboy metaphor? 

To the discerning movie buff, “High Noon” evokes Gary Cooper’s pained gait as his Marshal Will Kane marches to his showdown. The revenge-thirsty nemesis and his gang loom large in the movie, but as not as forebodingly as the cowardly townspeople who allow Kane to fight their battles. Above the characters of the movie floats the lovely visage of Grace Kelly as Kane’s pacifist-wife, who ends up taking part of the showdown herself in a poignant twist. 

Without going on the well-traveled trails of Cold War/McCarthy era allegory, we can see interesting comparisons to the aggressive and slightly sanctimonious Stewart taking down CNBC’s sloppy (at best) and criminal (at worst) media coverage of the financial meltdown while voicing the populist rage and a few well-placed F-bombs; to the cold-blooded hedge-fund managers toying with 401Ks; and to the passive media/entertainment-fed populace who would prefer to let managers or government make their money choices for them. I’m stuck on who would play Grace Kelly’s Amy Kane, but maybe someone else could come up with that. I have a novel to write, after all…

It’s rather a nice comparison, but when I watched the clip from The Daily Show what did NOT come to mind was

 

  • Fred Zinneman’s spare and minimalist direction
  • the stoicism of Gary Cooper’s portrayal of an honor-bound public servant
  • Frankie Laine’s rich voice as he sings the title song
  • two evenly matched opponents, almost twin-like in their shadowing of each other’s good/bad sides.

 

 (in this photo note the way Cramer’s lips are pulled back from his teeth in a grimace that begs a comparison with the groveling dog, not the snarling wolf) 

Instead, I saw a cringing Cramer squirming to lick someone’s ANYONE’S boots and a remorseless Stewart stamping on the CNBC’s correspondent and letting him back away just enough to take another step and grind him deeper into the dust. I saw the showdowns of the spaghetti genre after The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, when there was a liberal use of blood and dust and sadism and the one who was on the ground was a wretched, weak specimen of humanity–someone else groveling on the ground, getting the shit kicked out of them, not you.

The “showdown” in the clip was a little gut-turning, in the way those spaghetti westerns usually make me a little nauseous. But did I watch, fascinated, a voyeur who dearly wants to be able to assemble facts (with the help of a team)  and hit with a barrage of plain-spoken truth. I did watch, a corrosive populist rage fizzing in my blood. I watched and my fists clenched, my pupils dilated, and I’m sure I would have squished Cramer’s/CNBC’s fingers under my shapely cowboy boot too. 

Verdict: Appropriate. The good, the bad, and the ugly of America at an economic high noon. 

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2 Comments to “High Noon; or, Cramer Stewart CNBC Cowboy Stamp Showdown”

  1. you’re so right.

    how about bambi meets godzilla? would that be considered a western of sorts? godzilla being the agent of good of course….

  2. What a fine thought. Godzilla would be the agent of good, definitely, because he/she/it arose from the slime of nuclear catastrophe. It’s a redemption story, which westerns address. And bambi? bambi is toast.

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