One of the ideas for a project for release later this year, which I’ve talked about here before, is The Tales of Deputy Guppy. It’s be an audio drama in the same vein as Dr. Floyd but a western. Underwater. With fish. Turning the idea I created in high school into an audio drama was an idea I had while listening to the old-time radio westerns like The Six Shooter and Wild Bill Hickock.
I love westerns. Cannot get enough of them. The longer the slower the film, the better. My ultimate favorite is How The West Was Won. See it if you haven’t. Or ask me, I have the DVDs. I’ve just always been a huge fan of the genre.
I actually have 5 episodes of Guppy written and I think they are fun and in the spirit of true westerns but the reason I haven’t moved on producing them yet is there is a bit of a problem…guns.
How can I have a western without guns?
How can I have a family friendly audio drama WITH guns?
Especially with all the horrible goings on in the news recently.
I’m not one to glorify guns at all but I do feel that six shooters are an integral part of westerns. In the scripts I have now everyone has guns, even shotguns, but they are never fired. They are never fired because I was thinking parents would hate it.
The worst that happens in any of the scripts so far is that the bad guys get clunked on the back of the head with the butt of a gun.
The problem with this is I feel it’s selling the western genre short and, to me, aren’t as fun to write as it would be to do a full-fledged western.
As I see it, there are a few possibilities on how to handle this.
First…just have guns. It’s a western after all. It wouldn’t be gratuitous or glorifying, but there would be guns. I don’t believe anyone would ever die, because I don’t think I could bring myself to do that in a family show. However, in a ‘quickdraw’ situation, Guppy may fire his gun and wing his opponent in the hand…er…fin…forcing them to drop their weapon. In this version of things, I would rely on the fact that I watched things with guns as a kid (westerns, Star Wars) and I grew up okay. I also feel that parents have some responsibility in listening with their kids and discussing these issues when they came up as my parents did with me. Also, I wonder exactly how many complaints I’d get? WIth Dr. Floyd we got very few complaints, in fact, I can only think of one strongly worded letter about an early episode arc that, looking back, probably could have been handled better. Would the deluge of angry emails start with the first gunshot? Or would people be smart enough to realize it is part of the genre?
Another idea I have is to follow the path that The Six Shooter and Wild Bill Hickock did for most episodes and that it, even though there is gun play, most of the time no one is ever killed. Kind of the old G.I. Joe Animated Show or A-Team formula. Guns are used, but no one ever is hurt by them. This one is a a little trickier as there would be a lot of gun play but no one would ever get hit or hurt by them. This leads me to think…what’s the point then?
Yet another option I’ve been toying with is a different type of guns. I was thinking since the whole thing takes place underwater, they could have ‘pop guns.’ Basically, guns that shoot bubbles. This idea tickles me a little because I think that sound effects in in a big shootout scene would be pretty fun. Bubbles are harmless, but they still are guns. For a bit I had toyed with the idea of using ‘fish hook’ guns. Guns that shot fishhooks hoping to ‘catch’ the fish the cowboy was shooting at. But then I thought that sounded even more gruesome than regular guns.
Another option is no guns. They settle things with their fists…er…fins. Another big part of the western genre is the good old-fashioned fist fight. Of course, I’d be opening myself to letters about fighting being bad.
Or… there are guns but they are never fired. Like it is in the scripts now. To me, this is REALLY a hard way to do a western. It was okay in the first five episodes, but can kind of see that getting REALLY old, really fast.
The last option is to just do it the way I think it should be done. Don’t worry about what people are going to say about it. However I’d hate to put this out as a ‘family friendly’ product and have an instant backlash because there are guns and gunplay.
I just think guns are so ingrained in the genre, it’s very hard to do a western without them. I feel that can be used responsibly, but even if they are I think people would complain.
It really stinks that this has to take up so much of my thought about this creation which should be fun. For some odd reason, after the popularity of Dr. Floyd, I feel I have some sort of responsibility of putting out a truly family friendly product that takes these things into consideration. Part of me, though, says, that I grew up consuming media that had guns in it and I turned out pretty okay.
For the most part. 🙂
It almost makes me just want to leave the project on moth ball for good because it seems like it’s a no-win situation.
Anyway, what says you? Thoughts on guns in a western audio drama that should be family friendly?
In the meantime, enjoy the trailer for How The West Was Won. And see it.
P.S. Still working on my 2013 goals. Just work has cropped up preventing me form doing so. I’ll get around to it. Hopefully before April.
Thanks for reading!
People will ALWAYS complain. Do your own thing anyway.
I like the idea of bubbles or something else as ammo, but I agree…
GUNS are a part of this genre. As you pointed out, it’s a VERY different
kind of gun.
I also like the idea of using the guns in other ways… OR just “fin-a-cuffs”… 🙂
DO WHAT YOU DO, GRANT. It’s always wonderful.
p.s. Westerns (and War movies) were my Daddy’s favorites, too.
I miss watching them with him so much. xo
What would Yosemite Sam do? Bugs was never hit by the rain of bullets that YS shot at him.
I understand your concern. People have become hyper sensitive to the use of guns right now. It could fade with time – until the next shooting.
Remember that a child who doesn’t even have toy guns (mostly boys) will shape a gun out of toast, if given a chance. Making weapons for protection is a part of us and being frightened of them is the other.
The bubble gun sounds like a viable option.
People being hypersensitive to guns hasn’t stopped kids from playing with pop/NERF/BB guns. The Muppets and the Looney Toons prove (at least to me) that you can include weapons in a family show, provided there’s adequate context.