I am a subconscious fan of Westerns. What do I mean by subconscious? I don’t actively peruse Westerns. They peruse me. Westerns have always been on in the background of my life. When I was a kid, my grandfather—an avid lover of the genre—exposed our family to classics such as Gunsmoke, Cheyenne, Bat Masterson, Have Gun Will Travel, Wyatt Earp and many more. Through osmosis, I picked up a few things. Westerns can teach you an awful lot about life—then and now.
If you pay attention, Westerns can teach you more about love and sex than a Prince song… and that’s saying something. No disrespect to the Purple one, but it’s true. Let’s set the stage. Say you’re drinking at your favorite saloon and a local tough just called a barmaid a wench while grabbing her arm. You would get up, punch the guy square in the jaw and fighting would commence. After you win (of course you would win because you’re a good guy and good guys always win), that barmaid would take you upstairs, clean your wounds and then she would sleep with you. Ah, the good old days, where all it took to get laid was risking personal safety. Say what you want, it’s still better than Tinder.
Alcoholism is a career option?
In the Old West, being a drunk was a totally viable career option. In fact, it was damn near necessary. Every respectable town needed a town drunk. Why? How would you know who the respectable people were if there were no unrespectable people to compare? It wasn’t a bad living. You’d stumble out of bed, clock in for work stinking of whiskey, wearing the same clothes you went to bed in. So kinda like working on Wall Street, just with fewer benefits and way more societal respect.
In the Old West, wearing black meant you were a crappy person with no scruples or morals to speak of. In today’s society, wearing black usually means you’re a New Yorker, which to the rest of the world, coincidentally, means you’re a crappy person with no scruples or morals to speak of. In the Old West, all the bad guys wore black. So unless you were on the wrong side of the law, black was out of the question. Which is really too bad because black is really slimming. It’s a shame that clothing can be so stigmatized. Remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed we would one day live in a nation where we’re not judged by the color of our silk but by the content of our cardigans.? We can only dream. On a side note, you can make Dr. King’s speech say and mean whatever you want, just like the bible! It’s great!
Minorities are endearing in a folksy way
When viewing anything branded as “Western” one must remember that political correctness was virtually nonexistent. These were the same people who believed in seizing foreign land through Manifest Destiny: “The 19th-century belief that the expansion of the US throughout the American continents was both inevitable and justified” So just know you’re dealing with people who thought it was their God-given right to be assh*les. In those days’ minorities were viewed in a special light. Acceptable in small numbers (2 the most) downtrodden, luckless and totally dependent on the white man. If a non-white was part of an autonomous thriving community, then they were clearly agents of the devil and needed to be dealt with. But for the sake of happy times, we’ll only touch on the former. Minorities were judged on one simple criterion: How could they serve the white man and his cause for greatness. This help usually came in the form of servitude. Stable boys, saloon sweepers, and cooks were the staples as far as employment was concerned. Whenever a white person faced a problem or challenge — the minority would chime in with a folksy saying or story from their rich cultural heritage. This sage advice would usually lead to the white man’s prevailing and getting all the credit. Little or no mention would be given to the true dispenser of that wisdom. It was appropriation at its finest. It’s a shame we don’t see any of that today…
How to be a man
Being a “man” may be a subjective thing in our modern times — but in the old West, there was a litmus test of manhood. Men had to be tough, brave rugged and tall. If you weren’t tall — that’s OK, you just had to have a complex about it and punch every third man you saw in the jaw. Why? Because you’re a man that’s why! You also had to fight in one of the many proxy wars waged against Native American’s. If you didn’t, you could just make one up. Everyone would believe you.
So there you have it. Just 5 incredibly important things I have learned from watching Westerns. It was a simpler time; it was a more romantic time… it was actually a terrible time. Above all else, watching Westerns should have you thanking your lucky stars you were born into a time when indoor plumbing wasn’t considered a luxury.