Less Talk, More Action; or, The Gimlet-Eyed Beauty of Buying Cowboys

The silence of a cowboy-hatted western hero speaks volumes.

cowboy says little does much

This ad for billboards–discovered on a NYC avenue–says it all: if you have to explain yourself, you might as well herd toenail fungus for a living.

So the best of the best buckos never use more words when fewer will do.

In the best of the best westerns, just unadulterated looks could kill.  (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, 1966)

good bad ugly montage


(Although check this out–here is one western hero who talked for a living: Wyatt Earp sold his story–some of it true–for books and films.)

Wyatt Earp, age 79, 1923. Still a badass.

Wyatt Earp, age 79, 1923.

But he was unusual. Many western heroes were like the masterful cowboys that Gary Cooper played, able to melt women with a single glance. Remember: No Words!!!! They defeat the purpose of melting the womenfolk! (The Virginian, 1929)


Gary Cooper Virginian


Most just badassed their opponents with a cold, hard stare. Exhibit A: Woody Strode practicing before Harmonica gets into town. (Once Upon a Time in the West, 1968)

woody strode


“Say your prayers varmint … dead rabbits tell no tales…“Say yer prayers ya long eared galoot!…Oooo … that gastronomic, epicure, culinary crepe suzette–I hate him!”

OK, except for this guy… But think about it: in the world of Rabbit versus Yosemite Sam, who always wins? Not the talker.


Bugs Bunny Rides Again showdown


So it’s clear that advertising has always known what it’s doing when it slaps cowboy duds on an ad campaign: You’re a winner! You make things happen in boardrooms and on the frontier!

(And good thing they used scare quotes so we know for sure that the cereal wasn’t actually shot from guns…)



And what got me on this tangent? Just an item I HAD to purchase. It  screamed “western hero!”


lunchbox end shooting cowboy


Because nothing says “I’m a big cocky superboss gunslinger with six-guns the size of Texas…


lunchbox cowboy side


…like a lunchbox with “Cowboy” on it.



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