Beloved American icon and ardent socialist Andy Griffith has died at the age of eighty-six. While best known as the homespun sheriff of idealized, fictional small-town Mayberry, Griffith also played small-town lawyer and catnip-for fogies Matlock.
In a more atpyical role, Griffith played amoral opportunist and rabble-rouser Lonesome Rhodes in the frighteningly prescient A Face in the Crowd:
In his subversive Andy Griffith Show, Griffith portrayed a gentle Southern sheriff who lived in a sanitized, all-white town... a role antithetical to the tradition of the Southern lawman embodied by Bull Connor. While superficially all-American, Griffith's Sheriff Taylor represented the tyranny of the state and a soft-on-crime belief in the power of rehabilitative jailing:
Of course, in later years, Andy Griffith didn't even bother to hide his socialist, statist tendencies:
Funny how such a rabid pinko came to be known as the ultimate representative of small-town, Heartland values... he even had the temerity to disguise himself as a good, Christian man. Of all the tools of teh Debbil, deception is the greatest.
Uh, if I can turn off the snark for a while, I have to say that my favorite episode of The Andy Griffith Show was the episode in which Gomer Pyle tried to effect a citizen's arrest of Deputy Barney Fife... it cracks me up every time:
Damn, if only small-town sheriffs were as gentlemanly and competent as Griffith's Sheriff Taylor... I prefer the fictional version of America's sheriff to what's passing for America's sheriff nowadays. Rest in peace, Mr Griffith.
UPDATE: I just found this, and it makes Andy's passing even sadder to me:
Now, those are some real American values that I can get behind 100%.