Dirty Harry has always been politically incorrect – and angry.
The character who helped define Clint Eastwood’s long and storied film career doesn’t like authority even though he’s a lawman, refuses to coddle criminals, calls his linguine-eating partner “fatso,” and isn’t above stepping on a killer’s shattered leg to get the answer he needs.
Now headlines are screaming and social media is steaming about comments the Oscar-winning actor and director made in an Esquire interview out Wednesday in which he derided what he calls the “p---y generation,” said he thought tagging Donald Trump as “racist” was BS and allowed how it would be hard to listen to Hillary Clinton’s voice for the next four years.
Eastwood didn’t endorse Trump, but he did say that what he likes about the billionaire with the mouth that can’t be muzzled “is he's just saying what's on his mind. And sometimes it's not so good … I can understand where he's coming from, but I don't always agree with it.
“I haven't talked to Trump. I haven't talked to anybody. You know, he's a racist now because he's talked about this judge. And yeah, it's a dumb thing to say. I mean, to predicate your opinion on the fact that the guy was born to Mexican parents or something. He's said a lot of dumb things. So have all of them. Both sides. But everybody—the press and everybody's going, ‘Oh, well, that's racist,’ and they're making a big hoodoo out of it. Just f-----g get over it.”
It would be hard to make the case that the director who made Invictus, a movie about newly installed President Nelson Mandela trying to unite South Africa through soccer, and Gran Torino, a film about a cranky old man brimming with bias whose attitude is changed by his friendship with a young immigrant neighbor, is racially insensitive.
But Eastwood is being pilloried for recognizing in the Trump Movement the anger that the character Detective Harry Callahan embodied.
“[Trump is] onto something, because secretly everybody's getting tired of political correctness, kissing up” Eastwood told Esquire. “That's the kiss-ass generation we're in right now. We're really in a p---y generation. Everybody's walking on eggshells … when I did Gran Torino, even my associate said, ‘This is a really good script, but it's politically incorrect.’ And I said, ‘Good. Let me read it tonight.’ The next morning, I came in and I threw it on his desk and I said, ‘We're starting this immediately.’"
Eastwood was written off as out-of-touch and kind of loony after his performance at the 2012 Republican National Convention, when he addressed an empty chair in which an imaginary President Obama was seated. He acknowledges in the interview that he is troubled by “that silly thing at the Republican convention, talking to the chair” – an impromptu idea that clearly did not reflect what Detective Callahan says at the end of Magnum Force: “A man’s got to know his limitations.”
But he is unapologetic about being fed up with “people that say, ‘Oh, you can't do that, and you can't do this, and you can't say that’” -- just like all those white male Trump supporters who sit in front of the TV guzzling beer and watching Dirty Harry for the 900th time.
Maybe Clint is not so out of touch.