Dec 15 2013

R.I.P., Tin Soldier

How Tom Laughlin & Billy Jack raised the bar for men.

Death had a goddamn field day this week. Today I learned that Tom Laughlin, creator of the Billy Jack character/films, passed on Thursday. This is one of those deaths that affects me more deeply than most. I first saw Billy Jack when I was around nine. It was the first adult film with a strong political/societal message that got me in the gut. I’m certain the director Peter Weir felt the same, because the famous

“O Captain My Captain” scene at the end of Dead Poet’s Society

is pure homage to the final scene of this film. I became a little obsessed with the movie, and the song, One Tin Soldier, which did — and I just learned, still does — make me cry upon every listen. Plus I had a huge crush on Tom Laughlin. Or Billy Jack. That might have been the imprint of my “ideal man”: fair minded, stoic, tender, dark eyed, and one will stop at no means to stop — rather, will beat the shit out of — anyone who threatens who or what is dear to him.

It’s so random. Why do some things, some people, affect us so very uniquely and profoundly; and the random chance of simply those things entering our life. How the hell did “Billy Jack” even get on my 9-year old radar? Trust me, it wasn’t my parents or my brothers. I’m just grateful it did.