Growing up in Oklahoma, I’ve always been fond of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical of the same name. In fact, as a youngster, one of my career goals was to play Curly in the Broadway version of “Oklahoma!” Unfortunately, my lack of ability as a singer and actor hurt my chances more than my straight hair.
It never occurred to me that what I was watching might somehow make me want to go out and rob a bank, kill a neighbor or commit a drive-by shooting.
Imagine my disappointment, all these years later, at the recent announcement by producers of the show that it would be the first Broadway production to go “gun neutral.” That is, for every prop firearm that appears on stage during the production, the producers will give $15 to an anti-gun organization “committed to helping solve the gun violence crisis by destroying firearms that should be out of circulation.”
“We are honored and proud that ‘Oklahoma!’ will be leading the way on Broadway by partnering with the Gun Neutral Initiative,” Abigail Disney, head of Level Forward Entertainment, said in a statement provided to deadline.com. “Just because a particular story calls for the presence of a particular weapon, that doesn’t mean that we have to remain complacent in America’s gun-violence epidemic.”
What Disney and others involved with the production should be aware of is that just because “a particular story calls for the presence of a particular weapon,” that doesn’t mean all guns are bad or used for bad purposes, so should be destroyed. Settlers in the Sooner State—whether farmers, cowmen or otherwise—tamed some rough country. Firearms weren’t just a novelty; they were a necessity to protect early Oklahomans from wild beasts, outlaws and even rogue longhorns. And they were used quite often to put dinner on the table.
Every time I’ve watched “Oklahoma!” I’ve walked away uplifted, with a happy tune playing in my head. After all, the farmer and the cowman can be friends. It never occurred to me that what I was watching might somehow make me want to go out and rob a bank, kill a neighbor or commit a drive-by shooting.
In truth, the producers of the show are engaging in the most blatant kind of anti-gun political pandering, and nothing more. They know their handful of $15 contributions will do nothing to stop the criminal use of guns, and they don’t care. They just want to send the same signal that so many in Hollywood send—they are good because they oppose guns; you are bad for owning them.
I shudder to think what might happen if the folks at Everytown ever learn that Curly sold his Colt revolver for $18 to buy his sweetie’s food basket at the barn raising. After all, he did it without even a background check!