Somewhere out in the Old West wind kicks up dust off a lone road through a lawless town, a road once dominated by men with gun belts attached at the hip, boots upon their feet and spurs that clanged as they traversed the dusty road. The gunslinger hero, a man with a violent past and present, a man who eventually would succumb to the progress of the frontier, he is the embodiment of the values of freedom and the land the he defends with his gun. Inseparable is the iconography of the West in the imagination of Americans, the figure of the gunslinger is part of this iconography, his law was through the gun and his boots with spurs signaled his arrival, commanding order by way of violent intentions. The Western also had other iconic figures that populated the Old West, the lawman, in contrast to the gunslinger, had a different weapon to yield, the law. In the frontier, his belief in law and order as well as knowledge and education, brought civility to the untamed frontier. The Western was and still is the “essential American film genre, the cornerstone of American identity.” (Holtz p. 111) There is a strong link between America’s past and the Western film genre, documenting and reflecting the nations changes through conflict in the construction of an expanding nation. Taking the genres classical conventions, such as the gunslinger, and interpret them into the ideology of America. Thus The Western’s classical gunslinger, the personification of America’s violent past to protect the freedoms of a nation, the Modernist takes the familiar convention and buries him to signify that societies attitude has change towards the use of diplomacy, by way of outmoding the gunslinger in favor of the lawman, taming the frontier with civility.
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...uggles between the savagery and civility, he and Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin), are men threatening, as well as standing, in the way of the progress and later the stability of the soon to be established “recognized territory.” There are two very different characteristics of these men though, Tom is full aware what is happing to in the New West and eventually succumbs. Meanwhile Liberty knows this is happing too, but he will do, as he must to keep the frontier open, for purely selfish reasons. This is the swan song of the boots, the gun belt and the spurs, the inevitable end of freedom that was once known since its inception at the establishment of the United States of America, but the Western was and still is today, a vast frontier of compelling stories, classic American narratives and themes that will continue to capture the imagination of all freedom loving people.
A starving man paves his own highway with the calloused soles of his hunger. Out on the untamed wastelands, forests, and prairies it was the way of the gun, the knife, and the axe for all that managed to survive. And survive these brave men and women did with a sheer will of endurance that the pampered of today’s world has not come to know even the shadow of. In our modern comfort we live in what legacy these bold souls carved out of this nation, and much of the thanks we must give is passed to the sweat-hewned implements of their survival, the weapons of the frontier.
...to Americans: if their prospects in the East were poor, then they could perhaps start over in the West as a farmer, rancher, or even miner. The frontier was also romanticized not only for its various opportunities but also for its greatly diverse landscape, seen in the work of different art schools, like the “Rocky Mountain School” and Hudson River School, and the literature of the Transcendentalists or those celebrating the cowboy. However, for all of this economic possibility and artistic growth, there was political turmoil that arose with the question of slavery in the West as seen with the Compromise of 1850 and Kansas-Nebraska Act. As Frederick Jackson Turner wrote in his paper “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” to the American Historical Association, “the frontier has gone, and with its going has closed the first period of American history.”
In the genre of western films, the hero plays a key role. Humanity portrays civilization overcoming the hostile country (Miller 66). In many films the American civil war is over, and people have turned their attention to more constructive pursuits. Battling nature to progress America's future, rather than each other. In between this wild country, fraught with danger and corruption lies the role of the hero. A hero is an individual with exceptional skills and through his abilities is able to rid a stricken town of the corrupt elements within. In many cases however, the hero's skills are not enough. His relationship with the community can define how successful his help can be.
When the average modern American thinks of the Old West, they often think of cattle drives, outlaws and lawmen, and John Wayne; things they see in western movies. Another staple in western movies is the range war, it is important for modern Americans to know which parts of the west were true and which were false. The range wars of the late 1800’s were important to rights and responsibilities because they changed the way many people lived in the west and midwest, finally stating the concept of private and public property.
Gunsmoke was the longest running radio show ever made. It is based on the historical city of Dodge. The series is centered around the character of Matt Dillon, who is the U.S. Marshall at Dodge. Each episode is one of his adventures, usually with his fellow helper, Chester, in keeping the peace and bringing justice in the area. Dillon's independence, sense of justice, and keen problem solving ever epitomize the stereotypical old-west hero.
Over the years, the idea of the western frontier of American history has been unjustly and falsely romanticized by the movie, novel, and television industries. People now believe the west to have been populated by gun-slinging cowboys wearing ten gallon hats who rode off on capricious, idealistic adventures. Not only is this perception of the west far from the truth, but no mention of the atrocities of Indian massacre, avarice, and ill-advised, often deceptive, government programs is even present in the average citizen’s understanding of the frontier. This misunderstanding of the west is epitomized by the statement, “Frederick Jackson Turner’s frontier thesis was as real as the myth of the west. The development of the west was, in fact, A Century of Dishonor.” The frontier thesis, which Turner proposed in 1893 at the World’s Columbian Exposition, viewed the frontier as the sole preserver of the American psyche of democracy and republicanism by compelling Americans to conquer and to settle new areas. This thesis gives a somewhat quixotic explanation of expansion, as opposed to Helen Hunt Jackson’s book, A Century of Dishonor, which truly portrays the settlement of the west as a pattern of cruelty and conceit. Thus, the frontier thesis, offered first in The Significance of the Frontier in American History, is, in fact, false, like the myth of the west. Many historians, however, have attempted to debunk the mythology of the west. Specifically, these historians have refuted the common beliefs that cattle ranging was accepted as legal by the government, that the said business was profitable, that cattle herders were completely independent from any outside influence, and that anyone could become a cattle herder.
The setting of the essay is Los Angeles in the 1800’s during the Wild West era, and the protagonist of the story is the brave Don Antonio. One example of LA’s Wild West portrayal is that LA has “soft, rolling, treeless hills and valleys, between which the Los Angeles River now takes its shilly-shallying course seaward, were forest slopes and meadows, with lakes great and small. This abundance of trees, with shining waters playing among them, added to the limitless bloom of the plains and the splendor of the snow-topped mountains, must have made the whole region indeed a paradise” (Jackson 2). In the 1800’s, LA is not the same developed city as today. LA is an undeveloped land with impressive scenery that provides Wild West imagery. One characteristic of the Wild West is the sheer commotion and imagery of this is provided on “the first breaking out of hostilities between California and the United States, Don Antonio took command of a company of Los Angeles volunteers to repel the intruders” (15). This sheer commotion is one of methods of Wild West imagery Jackson
In “The Thematic Paradigm,” Robert Ray explains how there are two vastly different heroes: the outlaw hero and the official hero. The official hero has common values and traditional beliefs. The outlaw hero has a clear view of right and wrong but unlike the official hero, works above the law. Ray explains how the role of an outlaw hero has many traits. The morals of these heroes can be compared clearly. Films that contain official heroes and outlaw heroes are effective because they promise viewer’s strength, power, intelligence, and authority whether you are above the law or below it.
As history cascades through an hourglass, the changing, developmental hands of time are shrouded throughout American history. This ever-changing hourglass of time is reflected in the process of maturation undertaken by western America in the late nineteenth century. Change, as defined by Oxford’s Dictionary, is “To make or become different through alteration or modification.” The notion of change is essential when attempting to unwind the economic make-up of Kansas in the 1880’s and 1890’s. Popular culture often reveres the American cowboy, which has led him to become the predominate figure in America’s “westering” experience (Savage, p3). However, by 1880 the cowboy had become a mythical figure rather than a presence in western life. The era of the cowboy roaming the Great Plains had past and farmers now sought to become the culturally dominant figure and force in the American West. Unlike the cowboys, farmers were able to evolved, organizing and establishing the Populist Party. The farmers’ newly formed political organization provided them with a voice, which mandated western reform. Furthermore, the populist ideas spread quickly and dominated western thought in the 1880’s and 1890’s. The period of the 1880’s and 1890’s marked the end of the American cowboy and gave farmers a political stronghold that would forever impact the modernization of the West.
Gunslingers, outlaws and cowboys all are conventional imagery that is found in the western genre. This Godforsaken Place by Cinda Gault utilizes these images along with several other aspects of a typical western novel to offer a compelling consider the genre. With the addition of classic historical western figures, such as Annie Oakley the sharpshooter, the James-Younger Gang of outlaws and the iconic “Buffalo Bill” Cody, the novel brings compelling western elements into play. It depicts numerous recognizable aspects of the western genre, through its use of outlaws, rule breaking and the Native Indian conflict. (Perret) Though the genre is challenged from its core by the protagonist of the story, Abigail Peacock and the iconic Annie Oakley.
While the western frontier was still new and untamed, the western hero often took on the role of a vigilante. The vigilante’s role in the frontier was that of extralegal verve which was used to restrain criminal threats to the civil peace and opulence of a local community. Vigilantism was typical to the settler-state societies of the western frontier where the structures and powers of government were at first very feeble and weak. The typical cowboy hero had a willingness to use this extralegal verve. The Virginian demonstrated this throughout with his interactions with Trampas, most notably in the interactions leading up to the shoot out and during the shoot-out itself. “Others struggled with Trampas, and his bullet smashed the ceiling before they could drag the pistol from him… Yet the Virginian stood quiet by the...