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Cowboys in Entertainment

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by

Lee Isaac

on 21 April 2010

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Transcript of Cowboys in Entertainment

But are these ideas reality? Cowboys! When we think of cowboys, what comes to mind? -Clint Eastwood -Wild West -"Guns blazing" -Freedom and Self-Reliance -Duels and Danger He's soo dreamy! Unlike Clint, cowboy culture was a melting pot. This melting pot included a variety of races, religions, and backgrounds. -Winning the woman! While the cowboy life was somewhat free, they were essentially
indentured slaves to the cattlerachers. Since the cowboys were
generally poor, they went where ever they could get work and
would accept generally any job and any pay that was available.
This caused them to be indebted to the aforementioned cattlerachers. Or atleast he used to be... Contrary to entertainment's portrayal, the cowboy lifestyle was generally lonesome, and when they did find companionship it was generally in a brothel. This led to a large amount of STDs within the cowboy population. Instead of the duels and dangers, a cowboy's life was one of drudgery. His everyday activities were not heroic in nature, but rather centered around the perils of tending to cattle. While cowboys did carry guns, they were not carried for the infamous duels, but rather for the possible predators that could prey upon the cattle they were set to protect. The "Wild West" is one of the few things entertainment got right. Many of the cultural habits and traditions, including clothing, speech, and food were relatively historically accurate. But this raises a further question! Why did the cowboy culture change so much from reality to the pages of the novel and the pictures of films? There is a fairly obvious answer to this, and to see it you must look at the basic function of the entertainment business. MONEY! Let's revisit some of our previous opinion of cowboys. While money is always important, it was especially important if you look at when cowboys and westerns became popular in the entertainment business. The explosion of cowboys happened during the late 19th century and early 20th century. This was a time marked by depressions. After people found that money could be made, people jumped on the bandwagon. One of the best examples of this is Zane Grey, who was formely a dentist, but became a western author that wrote 45 books and sold over 50 million copies. In a financial crunch, most people will do most anything for some
relatively quick and easy cash. This led to many unknowledgeable people
writing western books. They were not concerned with staying true to
historical facts, instead they were concerned with the financial benefits. While this does describe why so many authors decided to
write westerns, it does not explain why the public was so receptive to this
overhaul of cowboy culture. I believe the cowboy culture was received so well due to it fulfilling two fundamental human needs: the need for hope, and a release from the down-trodden realities of life at the time for the Americans. As I previously mentioned, the rise of cowboys
was during a financially unstable time in American
history, but it was also a time of great change. There were
wars, changes in government, urbanziation, and many
things that destablized life as many people knew it. This
left many people out in the cold and wondering what had
happened. When people are in a desperation, they reach out
and want to believe in something. That something could
be found in the heroes and stories found in the western
genre. They saw men to look up to and stories to take
passion from. I think it is easy to write this off as an unrealistic
reason as to why the cowboy explosion in popular
culture happened, but this is not so different from
what happened in many religions; stories almost too
fantastical to believe have inspired billions of people
through out the years to go to war, to give money, and
most importantly to have faith in times of desperation.
While I am in no way saying that the cowboy culture is
some religion, I do think it merits a deeper look and can
be a reasonable explanation as to why the western genre
met so much success during these relatively rough times. Due to the aforementioned realities of America at the time,
many people were facing a time were they felt down-trodden
and they were in need for a release of the built up angers, frustrations,
and troubles that plagued their life. This release could be found in the
pages of a novel or on the big-screen of the films. In the cowboy, they could find a life that varied greatly from their own.
It was a life that was free, especially of the constraints applied by government,
family, and social norms. The self-reliant cowboy showed a man living in
the wilds of a relatively uncivilized life and finding fulfillment and satisfaciton
within that life. The cowboy was above and beyond
the things that troubled the average
person. He was untouched by the
realities of the times, and that made
the stories about him a perfect escape.
A person did not have to think about
their life when they were enthralled
with the stories of another. These are only my beliefs as to why the western genre experienced
such a boom of popularity, but I think it is important to look deeper
into the reasons as to why certain cultures and trends rise to fame.
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