As Lusted notes, the Gunfighter Western was one of the first of the genre to be interested “in the process of change” (Lusted 210). Instead of focusing on such themes as the collective effort of westward expansion, like many of John Ford’s Westerns (Schatz 70-71), the Gunfighter “turns the genre and its hero inside out,” (Schatz 71) and takes a more introspective look at how violence can be found at the core of social order. To do this, the focus shifts away from films that play on the ...
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...oral world. Instead, by allowing the character to live, Cronenberg not only suggests that there’s moral grounding within the use of violence, particularly in terms of its supposed protection towards the progression of society, but also provokes the question,“just who are we rooting for in this film?” (Beaty 87). Not only does the film force the audience to think about the effects of violence, but questions whether we as an audience, like Tom’s family, can accept violence as an ambiguous method of social order. Ultimately, it’s because of this complex, evocative nature, and the fact that the film questions not only the morality of the characters, but the audience itself, instead of enforcing morality on its audience like in The Gunfighter, that the film succeeds in demonstrating the full specter of violence and aggression, both on screen and in society.
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