Schutze

Jim Doesn't Like Big Tex. Big Tex Burned. Jim's from Detroit, Arson City USA. Ruh-roh.

I feel really bad for the guy who just got fired from his job as the voice of Big Tex. Bill Bragg, the actor who supplied the voice of the giant talking cowboy mannequin at the State Fair of Texas, says in The Dallas Morning News this morning, "I thought everyone loved me, including the State Fair." I can't imagine thinking that.

But I also have this sort of nagging nasty soul-biting little confession to make -- something I have been carrying around inside ever since last that big boy burned down last October. I just can't keep it inside any longer. I must unburden my soul. I never liked Big Tex. I just didn't. I thought he was ugly. Maybe cheesy. In fact, sort of scary. I'm not talking about his voice. His voice was great. Bill Bragg did a wonderful job, especially given what he was working with. I'm talking about the thing. The statue. I didn't like looking at it.

Big Tex didn't look nice. He didn't look friendly. He looked crazy. If a real person who looked like that approached me at a DART stop, I would have my phone out with my finger on 911. He had that kind of smile that means he's about to ask where the bathroom is.

And, look, again, I think Bill Bragg was great. But sometimes the way Big Tex looked had an unfortunate effect on the way he sounded. This was not the voice actor's fault. But the combination of the voice and that smile made him sound less like a good-old-boy to me sometimes and more like a mentally challenged person, not that there's anything wrong with that.

I also didn't like his clothes. Normally I do like the cowboy look with the ranch-wear and all that. But I never thought he looked like a real cowboy. He looked to me more like a 6-year-old at a birthday party -- never a good look for a grown man. Kind of puts people in mind of 911 again.

I never said anything about this before, on the principle of not speaking ill of the recently departed not to mention the recently incinerated. It was a terrible end for him. And, by the way, I completely reject the stubborn and increasingly persuasive story about it being an inside job even though that would sort of support my own feelings if somebody else decided Big Tex needed to take a powder which I am sure they did not because what kind of a person would do such a thing other than me which I did not.

Here is why I speak now. Big Tex is gone. His voice is gone. Everything about him is gone. But the State Fair says it will replace Big Tex with an even better version. So I speak in order to say this: along with a new version, how about a better one?

Especially the face. We should shoot for a face that will not recur in unpleasant dreams. The clothes, too. Take a look at the Panhandle Slim line. They look much better than that birthday-suit look.

And you know what? More important than any of that? This is kind of hard to say, because it sounds so unkind, even though he's not a real person. But could something be done about his body?

Seriously. I always thought the way his shoulders were all hunched up and his neck kind of cork-screwed, he looked more like Cowboy Frankenstein. No, I mean it. Like he was suffering. There was always this big impending lurch about him, as if he might start coming at you in a scene from an old Japanese horror flick with thousands of people screaming and splashing through the lagoon to get away.

And since he's going to need a new voice anyway, how about giving him something more interesting to say? What did he ever say before except, "Hoooowdy, folks, and welcome to the great Sate Fair of Texas?" Seemed to me people were always standing around looking up at him kind of tapping their feet, like, "Yeah? And? Is he at last going to tell us where the bathrooms are?"

And then way down deep psychologically and unconsciously, you could see the uncomfortable thought forming on their faces: "Oh, no! He's going to ask us where the bathroom is! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!"

He needs to be better. That's all I'm saying. By the way, I'm from Detroit.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze