Johnny Yuma is an angry young former Confederate Army soldier drifting through an apparently meaningless existence in the 1860's Wild West. While in search of his identity, he defends people from hostile Indians, crooked land developers, and evil ranchers. Written by
Catharsis, entertainment, or just good entertainment?
I was an avid fan of "The Rebel" when it first came out and I was in high school. I was a shy, skinny kid who tended to get rammed into the hallway lockers by the beefy kids bruising by, so I liked the image portrayed in "The Rebel". In contrast to the big, imposing guys in the TV westerns of the late 50's and early 60's such as James Garner, Clint Walker, and Chuck Conners, Nick Adams playing Johnny Yuma was a small guy who was even kind of asking for it by wearing a Confederate cap which designated him as someone the big guys would take as a loser and therefore, a temptation to bully. The very first episode introduces Johnny Yuma as a loner riding into a small western town and leading his horse to the water trough. The town toughs immediately see the Confederate cap and start shoving him around. "Don't push," Yuma says not in a whiny voice but with warning menace. "You aught to be used to being pushed by now, Reb," one of the toughs smirks. By the time this episode is over, Johnny Yuma has emptied his Confederate cap and ball pistol into them and blasted them and with his sawed off double barreled shotgun. Then, he grabs from his saddle bag a cluster of dynamite with the fuse already fashioned, lights it, storms to the saloon, and tosses the explosive package over the swinging doors. Boom! Each week, Johnny Yuma encountered another version of bullying by the bad guys and apathy by the onlookers which kind of resembled Will Kane's isolation in "High Noon." And each week Johnny Yuma would fight and blast his way to vengeance and justice. I haven't seen any of "The Rebel" episodes for almost 40 years. On top of that I have been living in Asia since 1969. But in light of what I have read about the recent tendency in American high schools for certain alienated students to keep journals like Johnny Yuma did and to one day march into the cafeteria blasting away, I wonder if "The Rebel" serves as catharsis or provocation. Or just good entertainment.
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