“Billy Jack” Movie

This is the movie that Lorelai and Rory watch with Max. It is one of their favourites: they have it on home video, and have watched it more than ten times; Rory says you cannot watch a Billy Jack movie too many times.

The movie they are watching is The Born Losers, the first of the “Billy Jack” films. It is a 1967 action film which was directed and produced by Tom Laughlin, who also stars in the title role. The film introduces the character of Billy Jack, a mysterious Green Beret Vietnam veteran who is of partial Navajo Indian descent.

The plot involves Billy Jack coming down from his peaceful abode in the Californian mountains to a small town, where he gets into several violent confrontations with the Born Losers motorcycle gang, and must protect others. It is loosely based on a real incident in 1964, when members of the Hells Angels were arrested for raping five teenage girls in Monterey, California.

(Incidentally, this was also the impetus for Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs by Hunter S. Thomson, his first book, published in 1966. Could this have been the book that the motorcycle-loving Dean lent to Rory?)

Made on a shoestring budget, the film was a commercial success, and led to several Billy Jack sequels being made. It received generally negative reviews, mostly because of the violence, of which the show gives us a little taste.

The way that Lorelai and Rory watch The Born Losers with Max is a callback to them watching The Donna Reed Show with Dean.

In both cases, the male guest had to provide the food (Max cooked, Dean brought pizza), doesn’t get any choice in what show or movie is watched, and isn’t allowed to comment or voice an opinion on it. He can’t even hear it properly because the Gilmore girls talk all the way through it, which drowns out what they are watching. Any attempt by the male guest to assert his opinions, or even ask what is happening onscreen, is roundly attacked by Lorelai and Rory.

Just as watching The Donna Reed Show led to Rory and Dean having a major argument, watching The Born Losers prefaces a fight between Lorelai and Max.

It demonstrates to us how Lorelai and Rory watch their favourite movies and TV shows – they have a love-hate relationship with the medium, are celebratory and critical at the same time, and both focused on what they are watching, and easily distracted from it. Their viewing style is deeply ironic, taking a pleasure in bad taste which is considered “camp”. They are also highly participatory, giving a running commentatory on the show while adding their own dialogue to it.

You can tell that Lorelai and Rory are used to watching things together, and their viewing habits seem to have been formed as a way to exclude others. They both seem to take a malicious pleasure in forcing Dean and Max into the role of clueless outsider.

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