Dream West: Politics and Religion in Cowboy Movies

Overview

While political liberals celebrated the end of “cowboy politics” with the election of Barack Obama to the presidency, political conservatives in the Tea Party and other like-minded groups still vociferously support “cowboy” values such as small government, low taxes, free-market capitalism, and the right to bear arms. Yet, as Douglas Brode argues in this paradigm-shifting book, these supposedly cowboy or “Old West” values hail not so much from the actual American frontier of the nineteenth century as from ...

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Dream West: Politics and Religion in Cowboy Movies

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Overview

While political liberals celebrated the end of “cowboy politics” with the election of Barack Obama to the presidency, political conservatives in the Tea Party and other like-minded groups still vociferously support “cowboy” values such as small government, low taxes, free-market capitalism, and the right to bear arms. Yet, as Douglas Brode argues in this paradigm-shifting book, these supposedly cowboy or “Old West” values hail not so much from the actual American frontier of the nineteenth century as from Hollywood’s portrayal of it in the twentieth century. And a close reading of Western films and TV shows reveals a much more complex picture than the romanticized, simplistic vision espoused by the conservative right.

Examining dozens of Westerns, including Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Red River, 3:10 to Yuma (old and new), The Wild Ones, High Noon, My Darling Clementine, The Alamo, and No Country for Old Men, Brode demonstrates that the genre (with notable exceptions that he fully covers) was the product of Hollywood liberals who used it to project a progressive agenda on issues such as gun control, environmental protection, respect for non-Christian belief systems, and community cohesion versus rugged individualism. Challenging us to rethink everything we thought we knew about the genre, Brode argues that the Western stands for precisely the opposite of what most people today—whether they love it or hate it—believe to be the essential premise of “the only truly, authentically, and uniquely American narrative form.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292748286
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2013
  • Pages: 390
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Douglas Brode is a novelist, graphic novelist, produced playwright, produced screenwriter, film historian, award-winning working journalist, and award-winning educator. He currently teaches at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, the University of Texas at San Antonio, and Our Lady of the Lake University. His many books include Shooting Stars of the Small Screen: Encyclopedia of TV Western Actors, 1946–Present; From Walt to Woodstock: How Disney Created the Counterculture; and Multiculturalism and the Mouse: Race and Sex in Disney Entertainment.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction. “Code of the West”: Politics, Religion, and Popular Culture

Part One. Cowboy Politics: Roosevelt through Reagan

1. To Die in the West: The O.K. Corral, History versus Film
2. Sheriff of Cochise: Thirty Seconds to Eternity
3. Red, White, and Blue States: Political Philosophy in Nineteenth-Century America
4. “From My Cold, Dead Hands": Gun Control in the West and Westerns
5. Way of the Gun: Violence in American Life
6. It‘s a Man's World? Gender Politics on Hollywood’s Frontier
7. Go West, Young (Business)Man: American Dreamers, Political Schemers
8. Redistributing the Wealth: Gene Autry, Frank Capra, and the New Deal Western
9. Don‘t Fence Me In: Rugged Individualism and Open Range
10. Silent Springs, Vanishing Prairies: Environmentalism and the Western
11. Red States, Red Menace: Of Cowboys and Communism
12. Once upon a Time in a Revolution: Radical Politics and the Western Film
13. Viva Juárez! Viva Villa! Viva Zapata! The Biographical Western as Political Allegory
14. All the Right Stuff: The World According to John Wayne
15. Flag-Waving on the Wild Frontier: Stars and Stripes as Political Ideology

Part Two. God‘s Country: Religion in the Western Film

16. Odes to American Imperialism: Manifest Destiny in Western Movies
17. The Town and the City: Space as Theme, Place as Character
18. Glory in the (Wild)Flower: Romanticism on the Open Range
19. Hearts of Darkness, Souls of Light: Visions of Nature in American Film and Fiction
20. A Chapel in the Canyon: Religiosity, American-Style
21. Multiculturalism, Mormonism, and Movies: Hollywood’s History and Cultural Appropriation
22. End of the Trail: The Dark Side of Faith
23. Ride Out for Vengeance: Revising a Western Paradigm
24. Old Testament and New: Days of Wrath, Angels of Mercy
25. The Church and the Saloon: Catholic versus Protestant Westerns
26. Onward, Christian Soldiers: The Pistol and the Pulpit
27. Harts of the West: The Gospel According to Clint
28. Then Came Sam! From Pappy to Peckinpah
29. Count No Man Lucky until His Death: The Western as American Tragedy
30. Born Again: Of Cowboys, Christianity, and Conversion

Conclusion. No Country for Bold Men: The Western Film in the Twenty-First Century

Notes
Bibliography
Index of Films and Shows
General Index

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