Whatever Happened To Sidekicks?
THE OTHER DAY I MENTIONED THE ACTOR Jay Silverheels who played “Tonto” in the old TV Western, “The Lone Ranger.” It got me to thinking, a sometimes dangerous condition, and I began to cogitate about “Sidekicks.”
I’ve seen one definition of the word as follows: “A sidekick is a slang expression for a close companion or colleague (not necessarily in fiction) who is actually, or generally regarded as, subordinate to the one he accompanies.”
The origin of the word comes from the less than honorable profession of the Pickpocket.
I would think that Tonto might dispute that part about being “subordinate.” How many times did Tonto save The Lone Ranger’s bacon?
The Sidekick has been a basic character in literature since the days of Gilgamesh, often providing comic relief in the story and giving the Hero someone to talk with.
Some of my favorite Sidekicks come from my youth and the movies and TV.
How could I ever forget George “Gabby” Hayes? A face like that wouldn’t ever get past a casting agent today.
I also enjoyed those Sidekicks who were out and out comic characters.
“Hey, Rocky. Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!”
Some characters that have never been thought of as Sidekicks are some of the more famous. I think that you would be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks of Dr. Watson as Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick. But that’s exactly what he was.
Even less likely to be labeled a Sidekick, but who fit the job description, was Leonard Nimoy’s “Spock,” from “Star Trek.” Without Spock the TV show, and the ensuing movies, would have truly sucked, and Capt. Kirk would have been forced to chew the scenery all by himself.
Literature, Movies and Television (three media not necessarily connected in any way) are filled with Sidekicks – some good – Barney Fife, some bad – Wonder Woman’s “Etta Candy.”
When I told my wife, the lovely and literary, Dawn, what I was writing about she asked if we were each other’s Sidekicks. I rejected that idea because it would mean that we were both Dominant and Subservient at the same time. That just can’t be done. Well – it can be, but try it and you’ll find yourself either in Psychotherapy or a recurring role on “True Detective.”
I did a quick Google search to see if anybody had ever done any academic studies about Sidekicks. What I found confirmed that there are people who have too much time on their hands. What was even more surprising was that a number of the papers came at the subject from a theological point of view.
I always thought of the Twelve Apostles as being Jesus’ “posse,” but they could just as easily be thought of as Christianity’s first Sidekicks.