ment, as well as from NOW and the chorusrnof whiners that pollute the Republic’srnairwaves. But, God willing, SMI willrnbecome a reality. When it does, it mayrnhelp to save the South from the clutchesrnof a ruling elite bent on destroying thernvirility exemplified by Jackson, Lcc, andrnForrest.rn{For further information on SMI,rnplease call Dr. Michael Guthrie at (205)rn464-0830, or write him at 267 Fine RidgernDrive, Madison, AL 357S8.)rn—Michael HillrnSLING BLADE, the recent hit filmrnthat rightly won Billy Bob Thornton anrnAcademy Award, is now out on video. Asrnviewers of the film know, it is a marvelousrntragedy of classical simplicity. Butrnwhat has not been mentioned is that it isrnalso a tale told in the tradition of Southernrnliterature. As the late M.E. Bradfordrnreminded us, the protagonist in Southernrnliterature is the community—not thernalienated individual of modernism—rnand so it is in this film when a retardedrnman twice becomes a murderer becausernof his primitive decency, trying to upholdrnright in a society permeated withrnvice.rnThe story opens as the main characterrnis about to be released from 2 5-years imprisonmentrnin a hospital for the criminallyrninsane. He is no longer consideredrna threat to society. His childhood andrnyouth had been a horror of misuse by hisrnfamily and community. His crime wasrnkilling his promiscuous mother’s loverrnwith a sling blade, and then killing hisrnmother when he realized he had notrncommitted an act of rescue and defensernbut an unwanted act of interference.rnUpon returning home, he is befriendedrnby some of the townsfolk and by a boyrnand his mother who have been taken inrnby a vicious live-in boyfriend. Tragedyrnensues as the retarded man once morerncomes to the defense of decency in thernonly way he can—another murder. Ifrnyou want to know any more, you’ll havernto rent the flick.rnOne hesitates to recommend any filmrntoday because the medium, like all ofrnpopular culture, even at its best, is so suffusedrnwith the general corruption ofrnmanners and morals that there is alwaysrna chance that one will lead astray a goodrnT () S U 15 S t R I B K . . .rn1 – 800 – 877 – 5459rnChristian family trying courageously tornshield itself from the ambient evil. Butrnthose who have wanted to exorcise allrntrash and filth have too often been unablernto tell Shakespeare from HaroldrnRobbins. (Prurience is only the otherrnside of the coin of excessive prudery.) Ifrnwe were to avoid all unpleasantness, wernwould have to excise most of the great artrnof the world. I do not think any youngrnwoman’s morals have ever been corruptedrnby reading Shakespeare (or Faulkner)rndespite their works being replete with seduction,rnmurder, rape, greed, incest, andrnevery vice known to man (even bestialityrnin Faulkner).rnMy blessed grandmother was shockedrnwhen she saw me reading Gone With thernWind. This was about 1954 or so.rnGrandmother was a Southern patriot,rnbut she thought the book glamorizedrnimmorality. In fact, most of our ancestors,rnthe pious ones, said the same thingrnabout novels in general. I still think theyrnwere generally right. However, it is toornlate. I feel the same way about rock musicrnthat grandmother felt about GonernWith the Wind, but I could never shieldrnmy children from it entirely. And itrnseems to me they have corralled andrntamed it, taking whatever was of any valuernand throwing away the rest. We cannotrnrun away from the ambient corruption.rnBetter to face it and master it (atrnthe appropriate age, of course), despiternthe risk.rnThis is a roundabout way of pluggingrnSling Blade. But what Hollywood hasrnneeded, ever since D.W. Griffith fell outrnof favor, was some Southern storytellingrntalent behind the camera, and in thisrnfilm it’s present. Ironically, if I am reliablyrninformed, the events upon whichrnSling Blade is based took place in NorthernrnCalifornia. But for Hollywood andrnprobably the mass audience to believe inrna retarded murderer, he must have arnGeorgia accent. Lucas Black, who playsrnthe young boy, is perfect. So is countryrnsinger Dwight Yoakum, who impersonatesrna villain so well that I did not evenrnrecognize him until I read the credits,rneven though I knew he was supposed tornbe in it.rnThis is a story about justice and decencyrnand murder and good and evil.rnWhat more could you want? Exerciserndiscretion with your children. Stablernyoungsters can probably profit from this,rnhave their moral development enhanced.rnThis is not Homer, Shakespeare,rnor Faulkner, but it is an honest attempt,rnin a corrupt age and medium, tornaddress—as they did—human tragedy.rn—Clyde WilsonrnT H E 1997 INGERSOLL PRIZErnrecipients are Shelby Foote and JeanrnRaspail. At a ceremony at the NewberryrnLibrary in Chicago on November 2,rnFoote will receive the Richard M. WeaverrnAward for Scholarly Letters; Raspail, thernT.S. Eliot Award for Creative Writing.rnThe awards, each of which carries a cashrnprize of $20,000, recognize writers ofrnabiding importance whose works affirmrnthe fundamental principles of Westernrncivilization.rnShelby Foote was born in Greenville,rnMississippi, in 1916. He attended thernUniversity of North Carolina in the mid-rn1930’s, served in the U.S. Army fromrn1940 to 1944, and was a captain in thernMarine Corps the following year. He beganrnpublishing fiction in the 1940’s andrnhistorical narratives in the 1950’s. He receivedrnannual Guggenheim fellowshipsrnbetween 1958 and 1960, the FletcherrnPratt Award in 1964, the Dos PassosrnPrize for Literature in 1988, and thernNivins-Freeman Award in 1992. He hasrnreceived honorary doctorates from thernUniversity of the South, SouthwesternrnUniversity, the University of South Carolina,rnMillsaps University, and the Universityrnof Notre Dame.rnThough an accomplished novelist andrnshort story writer, Foote is best known forrnhis three-volume narrative of the CivilrnWar (and more recently for his contributionrnto Ken Burns’ documentary on thernwar). As Nash K. Burger explained in thernNew York Fimes Book Review, “After writingrnfive novels, one of which, Shiloh,rndealt with the Civil War, MississippibornrnShelby Foote was asked by a NewrnYork publisher to write a short, one-volumernhistory of that conflict. Footernagreed. . . . Now, 20 years later, the projectrnis completed: Three volumes… 934rnpages, a million and half words. . . . a remarkablernachievement, prodigiously researched,rnvigorous, detailed, absorbing.”rnFoote keeps “an even hand in givingrnNorth and South their due measure ofrnpraise or blame,” noted C. Vann Woodward;rn”history and literature are rarely sornthoroughly combined as here,” addedrnPeter Prescott in Newsweek.rnThomas Fleming, executive secretaryrnof the Ingersoll Prizes, says Shelby Footern”is one of the master storytellers of ourrnage. He has rescued history from thern8/CHRONICLESrnrnrn