Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Deconstruction of the Sergeant Carter Mythology and its Archetypal Reflection of Contemporary Political Struggles and Whatever

I'd like to propose that Sergeant Vince Carter, played by Frank Sutton on the "Gomer Pyle USMC" 60s TV show, was the most awesome tragic figure of the 20th Century. Am I nuts? Certainly. But it's clear that the Sgt. Carter character was a haunted man, full of rage and deep insecurities. One must simply reconsider what lies beyond the goof-ball trappings of the "Pyle" series and you'll find commentary on the dark underbelly of a culture in the thick of denial. By utilizing the literary tools of irony, metaphor, and archetypal projection, the show is as trenchant as any of Shakespeare's works, once unraveled.


Sergeant Carter did everything by the book. However, where Gomer was concerned, resultant clumsy antics cancelled out Vince's desire for validation as military potentate. Everything that he asked of Gomer would backfire, while Gomer's classical "holy fool" innocence would push Carter to his wits end and eventual impotence (thus reflecting the diluting effect of passive resistance on traditional power structures, borrowed from Mahatma Ghandi and utilized as a common form of civil disobedience during the 60s). At the end of the day, Sergeant Carter would go off and drink a whole bottle of bourbon and become abusive to his girlfriend Bunny. Bunny symbolized fertility, as bunnies will, and Vince's sexual collapse meant the discontinuity of future progeny to his paternal order. He was a man living the demise of a chapter of assumed authority; a specialist made obsolete.

carter with his bunny:

uneasy smiles before the descent into hell

Geritopia's List of Top Tragic Figures:

Ruth Buzzy

Sergeant Carter


Gary Coleman

Captain Huffenpuff (aka: "Uncle Captain")

Fred Mertz

William Demarest

Clint Howard

Shemp Howard

Anyone who makes a top-ten list of names


paul said...

Exactly. How could anyone not see those plaintive, “I can't HEAR yous,” as the desperate cries for help that they were?

simple said...

I'm so sad. What drama, what pathos, what depth.

And you. Oh my!

Joey Polanski said...

Evn more tragick: Goober Pyle.

Anonymous said...

And the Holy Fool's magical mantra of "Shazam!" never amounted to more than a hill of beans. Yet the fortitude of our hero Gomer, who would dig a hole on command over and over again only to fill it....always prevailed. All the while he'd smile for miles only to taunt that much more the "Drunk with Power" Serg over the edge into a "Dark World of Degradation."

Dick Edgemont

Geritopia said...


Are you saying that Goober had Gomer's child? I never saw that particular spinoff series, nor could I stomach it. Hee Haw was quite enough for a lifetime (on which Goober made several appearances without his pants --or so goes the rumor that I just started)... although that Roy Clark, with his pudgy fingers, could really play that damn-ass gee-tar.

Back to the Pyle legacy. I guess that Sutton didn't enjoy much celebrity, except for that one Sgt. Carter role, which is tragic. And, like Bob Crane, he did some dinner theater before kicking the bucket at 50. Very tragic.

Come to think of it, Jayne Mansfield was also doing dinner theater gigs at the time that her head was smashed in a car crash. So not resorting to doing dinner theater appears to be the lesson that we can all apply to our lives.

Joey Polanski said...

Frank Sutton / Sgt Carter lives on in R. Lee Ermey.


As fer Hee Haw, THERE th real amazin attracktion was that fuckin RUG that Roy Clark took t wearin! Fuckin sixty years old, an th guy figgerd wed all be foold by a chocklit brown pompadour! Nervy prick!