Friday, February 16, 2007

Joe


I made my way over to the Wikipedia article on the so-called Man with No Name to read the debate on his being one character or three.

I must say, it's even more terribly written than one would expect from a wiki. The arguments saying he's one character seem incredibly weak compared to the evidence that Sergio Leone and his collaborators did not intend it to be one character and the strong suggestion that he's named seperately in each script. Even that would be fine, except that they're all phrased in such a way as if they'd trumped with their brilliance.

The continuity issues are quite interesting, but most seem merely intriguing, possibly in-jokes.

But the name arguments are incredibly weak. My favorite being the idea that being referred to by a name by only one character somehow in itself invalidates it as a name. Yes, it's not quite intended that literally, but the repeated use of it as "proof" only makes it grow in absurdity, especially since once must conclude that Tuco calls him "Blondie" definitively because of his blonde hair, which I think is arguable at best.

This was a lot of words, however, for something that wasn't my original point in posting, which is that it says, "Joe is used in a similar fashion to Mack - i.e. as a way to address a stranger (cp. the expression 'average Joe' or the popular song 'Hey Joe')". Now, ignoring the maddeningly awkward phrasing - especially since I'm often guilty of similar excesses myself - but I must say it's never occurred to me that the character in the song "Hey Joe" wasn't indeed named Joe, although, I suppose, an argument could be made.

The contrary argument, however, is that "Joe" seems to share an awful lot of intimate details about his life to someone in essence yelling out, "Hey, dude! Where you going with that gun?"


2 comments:

Eric said...

My thought would be that "Blondie" is a reference to Eastwood's hair, just as "Angel-Eyes" probably isn't Van Cleef's birth name. That's not to say that Tuco doesn't know Blondie's REAL name though.

I see no problem with seeing the three characters as the same -- there's no real need for the character to be dynamic, except perhaps in FoD. I don't see any problem with them not being the same either. More than likely, I feel that the character is the same in a less-literal sense -- a "type" used by Leone.

Neil said...

I agree, in principle, that "Blondie" is a nickname of sorts, as it's almost certainly not intended as his given name. I'm less convinced about the hair thing, as his hair, well, isn't blonde, to my eyes. Not even in Italy, where there actually are plenty of people who are blonde, say Franco Nero. Honestly, the name has always bugged me.

That said, I don't have an issue with either interpretation either. What I was trying to take exception to was how definitively some fairly arguable (or even downright weak) points were written on there.

Ultimately, I agree that he's probably intended as the same character in a figurative way that makes discussion of him as "The Man with No Name" a valid method of interpretation and analysis, but kind of weak to argue as dramatically definitive.

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