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Subject: America and the Western

Written By: Echo Nomad on 12/28/08 at 12:55 am

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Subject: Re: America and the Western

Written By: gibbo on 12/28/08 at 1:46 am

Here's an interesting essay about how the Western Film Genre has reflected America's society through the last 100+ years. Another interesting element is that it's through the eyes of an Canadian.

That was interesting reading

Subject: Re: America and the Western

Written By: Mushroom on 12/28/08 at 11:50 am

That was interesting, if not entirely accurate.  Once I reached the last segments, I realized what it was:  A thesis for why America is the way it is (through the author's eyes).

Westerns have a very diverse history in this nation.  And the author is only looking at it through cinema.  That is like looking at the history of motorized vehicles and drawing a conclusion based solely on the car, totally ignoring things like trucks, trains, busses, boats, and aircraft.

The American fascination with "Westerns" predates movies.  It can be traced all the way back to the 1830's with the "Daniel Boone" and "Davey Crockett" pulps, and the 1841 works of James Fennimore Cooper (Last Of The Mohicans).

As the nation moved West, it frequently brought along stories and modified them.  stage productions were often "Westernized" for showing in the Western regions, then brought back East and shown for "Curiosity".  And the "Celebrities" of the 1870-1890's were often Cowboys.  Will Bill, Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, the list goes on and on.  Even before Cinema was invented, the Cowboy was pop culture and real life.  Because cowboys were everywhere, from Florida and New Jersey to California and beyond.

And this is not unique to the US.  My wife has told me of her father's fascination with the "goucho literature" of Argentina.  And since the Author of the article is Canadian, he seems to forget the writings of Robert W. Service.  Often called the "Bard Of The Yukon", Mr. Service wrote scores of books about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including such works as "The Shooting of Dan McGrew", "The Law of the Yukon", and "The Cremation of Sam McGee".

And at the same time that the "Western Movie" was popular, so was the western radio show.  From the beginning in the 1920's, Westerns were popular on radio.  From Tom Mix and Gunsmoke to the Cisco Kid and The Six Shooter.  And while the author talked about the "Dark Westerns" of the 1960's, he does not even mention that this had been done decades earlier on Radio.

And of course in the 1950's there was a large revival because of Television.  And at the same time Country & Western music was regaining popularity at the same time.  And this happens several more times through the years.  When I took a film class years ago, the instructor made the coorilation between "Urban Cowboy", with the following raise in both Country music and the following wave of "New Western" movies.

Overall, the piece was interesting, if lacking in a great many facts.  I donot see it as a "cultural" article, but a political one.  Where the real meaning is carefully hidden for the end.

And if anybody wants to see how dark the Western was capable of being (and also light-hearted), check out "The Six Shooter", with Jimmy Stewart as the hero.  They can all be downloaded here legally for free:

Or turn to XM channel 164.  That is where my radio is turned to 95% of the time.

Subject: Re: America and the Western

Written By: MaxwellSmart on 12/30/08 at 12:09 pm

Well, the exploitation of "Western" pop culture by politicians is a lot of hooey!  Cowboy machismo was a tiny part frontier life, and lasted really for just a couple of generations.  Rugged individualism was a real part of the American pioneer experience, but this again was made possible by government initiative, and again the abuse of the phrase "rugged indiviualism" by Rush Limbaugh et al. is a lot of hooey.  These guys get bumped from First Class to Coach and they cry like stuck pigs.  They ain't no rugged individualism.

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