Oo-da-lally: Remembering Brian Bedford
Cancer — 4; British actors/musicians/creative geniuses — 0.
In a little over two and a half weeks, cancer stole Lemmy Kilmister (Yes, this pastor not only knows who Lemmy was, but also liked Motörhead. My husband, also a Rev., saw them in concert once…adjust assumptions accordingly.), along with David Bowie, Alan Rickman, AND Brian Bedford, the Tony-award winning, Shakespearean actor who will forever be the voice of Disney’s Robin Hood.
So, first, cancer can suck it.
Now, about Mr. Bedford…
Is it wrong to have a crush on a cartoon character?
He’s a total fox. Oo-da-lally.
Seriously, though, what’s NOT to love? Robin Hood is a social justice bad boy who overturns the greedy, corrupt system that perpetually robs from the impoverished people of Nottingham, and gives back to the very people it belonged to in the first place. How very Jesus-like of him! It reminds me of that story is in the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 21, verses 12-17, where Jesus overturns the tables in the temple and thus, overturns the greedy temple system that took advantage of the poor. Here, read it. It’s quick, I promise. http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Matthew+21:12-17
Rob is constantly looking out for old ladies and little kids. He’s not at all pretentious. Once he got in with Maid Marion, he didn’t leave his old buds, the local clergy and the not-so-little Little John, behind. This is also very Jesus-like: JC hung out with all the “wrong” people. For added coolness points, Robin Hood is an archer, ranking him with Chewbacca, Katniss Everdeen, and Daryl Dixon. Oo-da-lally.
Disney’s Robin Hood does it all with an ever-so-charming British accent, voiced by the late Brian Bedford, drawing you in with every lilting utterance of generosity and hope. “Keep your chin up,” he says, after handing a destitute mom a small bag of gold, “Soon there’ll be happiness in Nottingham again, you’ll see.”
In December, my seven year old and I watched It’s a Wonderful Life together. It’s a tradition. She’s on her third viewing. She’s seen it enough to anticipate the swimming pool scene and sing along with “Buffalo girls won’t you come out tonight?” This year, while Mr. Potter crabbed on about the “lazy” poor of his town while undoubtedly upping interest rates on their home loans, lying, and stealing, the seven year old said, “Momma, Mr. Potter is the Prince John of It’s a Wonderful Life! He’s so greedy. We like Robin Hood.”
Yes, child, we do like Robin Hood.
We live in a time of immense poverty and increasing economic inequality. I see it every week as the low-to-no income, often homeless, people who come to my office asking for assistance are now joined by middle class folk who can’t make ends meet. Our system is broken and needs fixing. When Alan-a-Dale sings, “Every town has its ups and downs. Sometimes ups outnumber the downs, but not in Nottingham,” he’s singing about all the Nottinghams of the world. And there are plenty. Maybe you’re living in one right now. Look around your town. Who could be cast as one of the poor of Nottingham?
So, I say, to honor the life of Brian Bedford, when it comes to Disney flicks, forget the Princesses. (Well, I would’ve said that anyway…) Why dream of growing up to be someone who needs rescuing when you can be someone who helps rescue the world from itself, from indifference, our penchant for greed and our lust of inequality?
If we all did that, then “Keep your chin up. Happiness will return one day,” will transform from a longed for hope to reality.