What Would Dad Do?; or, Four Fundamental Reel-Life Lessons from My Father

I love reel-life tough, taciturn cowboy heroes, in case you haven’t guessed. But don’t try to make this into a therapy session about my real-life father figure, who was a generous, slightly nerdy guy who loved music and reading, The Muppet Show (yes, it’s true, eek), and walks in the woods. He taught me just as much as . . . → Read More: What Would Dad Do?; or, Four Fundamental Reel-Life Lessons from My Father

Fast Times at Liberty Valance High; or The Reel-Life Politics of Ford’s Anti-Western

I knew where it was going. Anyone who’s done his or her western homework would.

There are two American archetypes that were sometimes played against each other in old Westerns.

The egghead Eastern lawyer who lacks the skills or stomach for a gunfight is contrasted with the tough Western rancher and ace shot who has no patience for . . . → Read More: Fast Times at Liberty Valance High; or The Reel-Life Politics of Ford’s Anti-Western

New Grit; or, The Coen Brothers Remake Retribution

Vengeance is mine, saith the main character of True Grit, because I hath paid good money for it. So begins the saga of a trail of revenge from so-called civilized town to wilderness, a narrative trail so often traveled in westerns that it’s become like a tame, broad, well-lit avenue with stoplights.

The players: Grizzled, troubled veteran with heart . . . → Read More: New Grit; or, The Coen Brothers Remake Retribution

From William S. Hart to the Dude; or, We Have Met the Hero, and He Is Us

In the 1920s, William S. Hart was the icon of the West. As well as Uncle Sam, a shining-knight cowboy, west-ho adventurer, and all-around patriotic patriarchal figure.

Thirty years later, John Wayne became the next icon of choice for manly men everywhere. Embodying home and hearth as well as risky adventure, Wayne’s shade of derring-do was equally . . . → Read More: From William S. Hart to the Dude; or, We Have Met the Hero, and He Is Us

Get It On; or, Western Fetishes, from Michael Jackson to Appaloosa

Get it on! Another da bomb of a Wild Western Web find! Michael Jackson as cowboy, circa 1977. *swoon*

Even through the anemic strains of a stoopit disco arrangement, you can discern the moves that made MJ great. Taking on the butch character of a cowboy/gunslinger, Michael Jackson’s dancing transforms classic western movie clichés into fetish objects. Check . . . → Read More: Get It On; or, Western Fetishes, from Michael Jackson to Appaloosa

A Man’s Gotta Do What a Man’s Gotta Do * ; or A Handy Guide to Life’s Goals

The epically awesome goals of a Silver-Screen Western hero can be distilled down to five emulation-worthy goals, which can be mixed and matched for dramatic effect.

win a love interest
protect society
wreak revenge
get rich
know thyself

*(btw, title from George Jetson of The Jetsons, not John Wayne)

Of these, . . . → Read More: A Man’s Gotta Do What a Man’s Gotta Do * ; or A Handy Guide to Life’s Goals

Cowboys + Aliens = America

Q: A cross between Sergio Leone and Steven Spielberg?
A: Something either really good or really sucky. The jury is still out.
Cowboys & Aliens: Footage of the movie directed by Jon Favreau is practically nonexistent but speculation is running high. You got cowboys and Arizona of the 1870s–classic western, but with an space-alien-takeover-so-the-cowboys-team-up-with-Apaches twist. You got a director . . . → Read More: Cowboys + Aliens = America

A Good Crop of Top Pop Cowboys

National Day of the Cowboy brought out all the panting western fetishists who love their cowpokes dearly, as well as the more serious side of cowboying, embodied by the rodeo riders and horsemen and horsewomen of the good old days–the 1980s, that is. “Proud Cowboys Still Tall in the Saddle” is the headline. The photos say . . . → Read More: A Good Crop of Top Pop Cowboys