In keeping with yesterday’s clarification I’ve added a twist to my “Spot the COG” game. Today I’m offering a COG and a “beyond COG”. Neither one is a useless derelict yahoo. Both pull their own weight, pay their own bills, and are a net benefit to society. There are no trust funders, yoga instructors, vegan poets, or community organizers implied in either photo.
The fictional character on the left is Walt Kowalski. (Note: If you haven’t watched Gran Torino quit reading this post and rent it right now.) Kowalski is a retired blue collar auto worker. He has clearly endeavored to be the best husband, father, and human being possible; even to the point of agonizing over the “boat motor incident”. He religiously maintains his beloved muscle car. He is dismayed by the decline in his neighborhood. “Below COG” newcomers have displaced COGs and have fomented anti-social behavior. Kowalski does not tolerate lawlessness and fearlessly tries to stop or defuse it wherever and whenever he can.
A man’s home is his castle and Kowalski defends his ferociously. He’s pictured here using an M1 Garand to illustrate his deeply held belief that people who want to engage in hoodlum violence had better get off his damn lawn.
During the movie he takes a non-COG under his wing and instructs him on how to live properly. These include a work ethic, understanding the value of a good wife, the importance of a car, how to hold down a job, the importance of charity, the use and care of tools, and how to be a better person who makes wise decisions in all things. Kowalski is not racist but if someone is acting inappropriately he will explain their failings right to their zipperhead face.
The fictional character on the right is Burt Gummer. (Note: If you haven’t watched Tremors you should watch it this weekend.) Burt Gummer has created his version of paradise; a custom built compound in the remote desert. He is armed to the teeth but is hiding from (rather than courting) involvement in what the eminent zombie apocalypse. He could ride out anything up to and including nuclear war in blissful peace but “goddamn underground monsters” just happen to attack him. (Gummer has that kind of luck.)
This man’s house is not merely a castle; it is a fortress. Gummer defends it more ferociously than some countries defend their capital. During an attempted home invasion he and his (inexplicably out of his league) wife unleash enough firepower to sink a battleship. They defeat a creature that has been killing everything in sight! Gummer proudly crows “broke into the wrong goddamn rec room didn’t ya’ you bastard!” Now that’s home defense!
Poor Gummer is treated as as comic relief even as his resources and skills save everyone around him. Yet, no matter how many indignities he faces, he never gives up hope. When the Soviet Union collapses, causing Reba McEntire to decline filming of the second movie, he becomes a free-lance monster killing entrepreneur. Thus demonstrating his work ethic and ability to turn hard won skills into commercial success. As with all business contracts, he is hampered by lousy managerial guidance. He is deprived of “mission critical need to know information”. Even so he adapts and survives; fighting against all odds until he is “entirely out of ammo, this has never happened to me before”.
Gummer, despite humorous bad luck, deeply believes in peace through superior firepower and the wisdom of preparedness. Thus earning him membership in my list of favored fictional characters. It also makes me wonder how a lame actor like Michael Gross did so well in the role?
In summation: both are self-supporting and society benefits from both. (One in the case of social disarray, the other in the case of attack by monsters). One is a COG and the other is “beyond COG”.
In a perfect world I would have only two neighbors and Gummer and Kowalski would be those neighbors. I would stay the hell of their lawn’s and they’d afford me the same courtesy.