Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Western Image, Continued

Heather Cox Richardson

The classic version of the American Western hero is Louis L’Amour’s Flint. Flint is a westerner, adopted by a gunslinger, then educated at fancy eastern schools. He plays the eastern game, becoming a rich businessman in the cutthroat world of industry. But his life has a twist. The secret to his eastern success is that he listens to the little guy, the cabbie who hears a stock tip, the waitress who learns about a business takeover. He values them and their hard work; he treats them as equals.

When an eastern doctor incorrectly diagnoses Flint with cancer, he chucks over his fame as a robber baron to go back to his roots. There, he sticks up for the small ranchers against the big guys, backed by the eastern system. He wins, of course. He’s better with cards, guns, and women than any easterner ever born. And he’s a lot smarter.

Does this image still appeal to Americans?

This TV show (below), appropriately named Outlaw, starts this week.

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