From all indications, Disney has fired a silver bullet into the new Lone Ranger movie, which was to have starred Johnny Depp as "faithful Indian companion" Tonto.
Reports had the budget nearing (or galloping way past) a mind-blowing $200 million. That probably means the director decided to buy BOTH the gaffer and the "best boy" a jumbo popcorn and 32-ounce soft drink.
It would be a shame if the project really does stay dead. The truth must get out about the meaning of Tonto's phrase "Kemo Sabe." The Ranger always took it to mean "trusted scout," when in fact it means "No more free shrimp from my casino, paleface!"
America really needs the Lone Ranger now, as an inspiration and rallying point. The Ranger's philosophy contains elements to please both red state and blue state folks. Was he an early "compassionate conservative" or one of the first gun-toting liberals? Creed elements such as "I believe that God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself" are open to interpretation. It can mean "Be a man and pull yourself up by your bootstraps" OR "Go ahead and be FLAMING, darling."
The Ranger hearkens back to an era when "return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear" meant rootin' tootin' action -- not bank accounts that paid at least two percent interest. It was a time when the Ranger could yell a hearty "Hi-yo, Silver!" and ride his steed into danger without interference from animal rights groups. ("It's okay. Technically, he's under NATO control.")
Back then the radio/TV announcer could tell us of "a fiery horse with the speed of light" and we would just accept it. Contrast that with these traffic-camera times, when you have to depend on some horse's rear end to mandate taking a photo of a horse's rear end.
A couple of generations of Americans can't hear the William Tell Overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger. Younger generations can't hear the William Tell Overture without thinking, "Hey, I can still hear! Better turn the Metallica up a few decibels!"
Singer Jim Croce warned us, "You don't pull the mask off the ol' Lone Ranger." I just hope the movie wasn't going to reveal that this is because the Ranger is a metrosexual. ("No! Don't take the mask off! I couldn't find name-brand exfoliating cream. I'm hideous! Hideous!")
It's hard to remember just how squeaky clean the Ranger's world was. When there was a saloon scene, the venue would be altered to a wholesome café. Similarly, when the Ranger needed to visit Congress, the setting was sanitized as a brothel.
The kind-hearted Ranger prided himself on avoiding deadly force, deftly disarming the villain instead of killing him.
He would always ride away as a grateful townsperson asked, "Who WAS that masked man, anyway -- and doesn't he want to stick around until this claim jumper heals so we can LYNCH him?"
Yes, the Lone Ranger's moral code was always a little too demanding for the average person. Many a youngster who recited it has gone on to guzzle beer while reveling in the sadistic excesses of Dirty Harry or Rambo. But somewhere deep down, a few quaint Clayton Moore sentiments lie waiting to break to the surface.
"Did he eat six free shrimp or five? Are you feeling lucky, MISTER punk, sir?"
©2011 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org@aol.com and visits to his Facebook fan page "Tyree's Tyrades." Danny's' weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.