I’m sure I cannot possibly be the only kid who grew up during the 1960’s who always dreamed of wearing Little Joe’s green jacket. Little Joe was the character played by Michael Landon on “Bonanza” and if you were a kid in the 1960’s, especially a boy, you watched westerns and if you watched westerns you wanted that green jacket. Lots of other TV characters from the 1960’s wore costumes that have far more of an iconic value than Little Joe’s jacket, but it’s not really about the iconic status.
It was just a really cool jacket.
The problem is that pop culture did not drive mass merchandising the way it does now. Oh sure, you could get your hands on a Davy Crockett coonskin cap easy enough. But the very idea of a clothing manufacturer spending money making a replica of Little Joe’s green jacket to sell to kids like me in the 1960’s is about as far removed from reality as selling a high quality, deluxe edition of the costume Adam West wore in “Batman” to adult men during the same period. No adult man outside of certain closeted circles in 1966 could be expected to pay in excess of a hundred dollars to go out in public in that costume.
And so, to paraphrase Langston Hughes, my dream of owning the green jacket sported by Michael Landon on “Bonanza” seemed to be a dream deferred into a dried up raisin in the sun.
Except that there appears to be another little boy who spent some serious time on the floor staring up at the flickering images of life on the Ponderosa. And, thankfully, that little boy grew up to become much more influential in the world of pop culture than I. That little boy’s name is Quentin Tarantino. Who could have known that one night as little boys across the country all slogged our way through the latest story a love affair between one of the Cartwright boys and an ill-fated female visitor to the Ponderosa and ached in quiet anguish over what was probably a shared desire for ownership of Little Joe’s green jacket that one day one of us would grow up to make that dream come closer reality.
For, you see, in Quentin Tarantino’s movie “Django Unchained” the titular character has been spotted in images and the movie’s trailer wearing a short green jacket that may merely look pretty cool to anyone under the age of 40. As for those of us over the age of 40, well, we know different.
Django’s green jacket is more than just cool. It more than just another Quentin Tarantino pop culture reference. It is a 40 year old deferred dream exploding into wish fulfillment.
It might even be enough to allow enjoyment of the movie in spite of what looks like a titanically embarrassing performance by Leonardo DiCaprio.