What Sons of Anarchy Has Taught Us
November 13, 2012 | Lists
There’s much that appeals about biker life – the wind whipping your face as you hurtle along an open road compares favorably to facing the cacophonous wail of a three year old coming down from a sugar high in the family SUV. There would also be plenty to crow about for leather lovers, enough booze, women and drugs to represent a viable alternative to post-crash Wall Street life and a cool clubhouse where you can sleep it all off, thus saving on the cost of a hotel.
As the FX show Sons of Anarchy demonstrates, however, there are some downsides to the life and we’re not just talking about battling hemorrhoids on long trips. There is, of course, the threat of incompetent local law enforcement taking a break from corruption and constitutional violations to send you to prison where cultural differences between the various ethnic groups are not, as a rule, celebrated.
There’s also the fact that when someone is shooting at you, you’re on a bike. There’s a reason that healthcare professionals call motorcyclists “organ donors”, and they’re mostly just talking about the accountant who plays Sonny Barger on the weekends.
The boys in SAMCRO have been through a lot over the past five years — substance abuse, backbiting, sniping, sleeping with one another’s mates — in short, high school but with fewer beat-downs. Sons of Anarchy began initially with the lead character, Jax, reading from the diaries of his deceased father and co-founder of the Sons outlaw biker gang. The diaries lamented that the gang had “lost its way”, which presumably meant getting into drugs and guns as opposed to nobler pursuits like prostitution and extortion. Now Jax is penning his own treatise for the edification of his sons, who will likely be patched in on the series finale.
We have learned much over the course of the show’s five seasons, and not just the fact that Jimmy Smits’ even-tempered pimp is convincing, if not his hairpiece. Here are a few of the lessons Sons of Anarchy has taught us:
We were always of the impression that joining a crew like the Sons of Anarchy would require some test of manliness, like allowing yourself to be subjected to a shit-kicking by your future highway companions or maybe strangling the pet baboon of an eccentric millionaire rival (SOA writers can take that and run with it. No charge). Or at the very least you should look like you’re able to consume a 72-ounce steak in a single setting. On Sons of Anarchy, it would appear that there are no such requirements, as evidenced by the inclusion of Juice, the most non-threatening fictional biker there ever was. Juice looks like he would need to work up the bottle to tell the neighbors to turn down their music and that he wouldn’t be capable of jacking the guy setting up the clubhouse Wi-Fi.
2. Underwear models can lead 1%er gangs.
Stereotypes tell us that bikers on average are a pretty grotty looking bunch. After all, they must subsist primarily on takeout and all of the murdering and illicit enterprise must leave them with little time to exfoliate. Now, Danny Trejo (Machete, “Romeo”, etc) looks like a guy who can put as many items as he pleases through a 10 items or less grocery check-out line with nary a word being said against him. He won’t be cast as Jennifer Aniston’s bookish love-interest any time soon. Jax, meanwhile, intimidates nobody except the competition at cattle calls for male modelling jobs.
3. You can film on location, but don’t trouble yourself with casting those pesky locals.
Usually, when a production ups and heads out of the country, it’s to serve the interest of the plot or possibly to avoid the IRS. In a city with as much unmistakable history and color as Belfast, one can’t simply employ a Vietnam movie’s, “one malarial jungle’s as good as the next”, ethos.
That’s why, it stands to reason that in Northern Ireland, the Sons’ Belfast chapter would be headed by say, someone from Northern Ireland and not an Aussie. Similarly, the face of the IRA should probably not be a guy from New Haven, Connecticut any more than the capo of the Sicilian mafia should be a guy with a mustache from Kuala Lumpur.
As of the time of posting, neither of us has ever been hit by a lead pipe (though we can’t predict how neighbors will react to blaring reruns of Leonard Nimoy’s In Search Of over the long term). Still, it seems that if you were hit by one, you would most likely crumble to the ground, bemoaning one’s life choices and the choice of your assailant to create a murder scene that requires a wet-mop.
Marble-mouthed Sons of Anarchy member Opie (spoiler alert) was given a lead pipe by unscrupulous (and wholly accurately depicted we’re guessing) sleazebag prison guards with a fondness for the board game, Clue. The weapon was handed over to at least make it sporting when Opie was locked in a cage with five members of a rival gang who were not there to discuss the merits of commissary cuisine. Now, he got in several good shots, none of which had any discernible effect, but was finally pounded into county concrete by weaponry presumably created by the good people at Nerf in Season 5.
5. No glass jaws here.
Carrying on in the same vein, boxers/MMA fighters are frequently knocked out by one punch, but hungover, out of shape, pill-addled, chain smoking bikers can usually absorb at least 4-8 shots before they’re bested.
6. Don’t yell fire in a crowded theater and don’t spray gunfire into a crowd, unless it’s Charming California where 911 doesn’t work.
SOA police officers don’t respond to gun fire, or for that matter, surface to air missile fire. Police in Charming have selective hearing – namely, anything about the decibel-level of common speech and adult contemporary radio.
Hospitals are forbidding places at the best of times – chances are if you weren’t sick going in, you will be after French-kissing someone with a communicable disease before leaving.
Still the aura of sickness and death that must permeate Charming Hospital as it does all facilities of its type is made all the more potent by the fact that a gang of murderous thugs are constantly milling about in there, with the grim reaper emblazoned on their backs no less. Charming Hospital has become a second club house for the gang and countless crimes and violations of ethical conduct have taken place there, yet not once have we seen evidence that the place employs even a single security guard.
Internships used to be a period of coffee pouring and pride swallowing one endured in the hopes of one day completing the cycle of workplace misery by having one’s own intern to abuse over botched lunch orders. These days, companies across the board have seen the fault with this model — the promise of paid work at the end of it. And thus we have interns doing the work that used to pay the mortgages of people in previous generations with the only possible paid outcome being under-employment, with no benefits and an intimate acquaintance with debt collection agency staffers.
The situation for “prospects”, as the interns are called on Sons of Anarchy, is slightly more promising as, presumably, the prospects get some kind of stipend — Phil looks like a man with a daunting grocery bill — or maybe a cut in the proceeds at Teller-Morrow, the most idle auto mechanic’s garage ever. But there are negatives to consider. In one memorable instance, the prospects were suspected of stealing cocaine from the club and forced to play Russian Roulette to prove their loyalty afterward. But what employer doesn’t at times come up with off-the-wall requests for staff? And given the Sons’ active criminal schedule it seems that patching in the prospects is somewhere below remembering to vote in federal elections on their list of priorities. It took Filthy Phil, for example, two seasons to get patched in and even now his primary role appears to be loitering at Charming Hospital and ferrying Jax’s kids around town.
The Shark Guys are not gang-affiliated and haven’t even seen a staged production of West Side Story. They are, however, the authors of Tastes Like Human: The Shark Guys’ Book of Bitingly Funny Lists.