Innocent as Charged

The strange case of the fatal shooting on the set of the film “Rust” keeps getting stranger and stranger.  You may recall that Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed when a prop gun, supposedly loaded with a blank round, was fired.  Turned out it had a live round in it.  Actor Alec Baldwin, by all original accounts, fired the gun. 

This all happened several weeks ago.  Nobody accused Baldwin of doing anything wrong, though I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for his next impersonation of Donald Trump on SNL.  Attention instead had centered on the prop managers, the one in particular who is responsible for handling the weapons used as props.  As a “Western” film, “Rust” of course has firearms.  If there’s a facet of Americana that supports our heartfelt affinity for firearms, it’s the Western.  I remember vividly as a little kid listening to the “Singin’ Cowboy” Gene Autry on the radio as I took my Saturday night bath.  Part of his theme song, “Back in the Saddle Again,” was the couplet:

Ridin’ the range once more
Totin’ my old .44

Yessir, nothing stamped a man  as a free, independent, American more than having a ride, the open spaces to ride in, and a gun to kill any varmint, human or otherwise, that got in your way.

Anyway, Baldwin has just given his first interview since the fatal accident.  He was apparently choked up with tears several times.  But he has now turned for emotional support to a most surprising source, the late Bill Keane’s comic strip “Family Circus,” now drawn by son Jeff Keane.  Often accused of being terminally treacly,  the strip includes three ghostlike characters, who often end up being blamed for the innocent misdeeds of the kids in the family: “Ida Know,” “Nobody,” and—the most famous—“Not Me.”

Alec Baldwin has now denied pulling the trigger of that infamous prop gun.  And he has pointed the finger at the much maligned Not Me!  Several other witnesses now do the same.  But, as the Family Circus Mommy so often points out, some real person, not just a maligned and mute ghost, unable to defend itself, probably had something to do with it.  And oddly, even though there was a solid handful of eyewitnesses, we are no closer to knowing who that real person was.

I wonder what the ghost of Halyna Hutchins thinks.

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