I love the Western genre, of which Robert Duvall once said, “…the English have Shakespeare, the French have Molière, the Russians have Chekhov, and the Western is definitely ours.”
Duvall starred in Lonesome Dove, the best coming of age movie ever made. It’s is like Steel Magnolias for men. If you need to teach your son the difference between sins of omission and commission, let him witness Jake Spoon’s fate.
In my mind there is no doubt that Westerns are our most romantic genre. Before you doubt me, I’ll ask you to please consider this definition of “romantic”: marked by the imaginative or emotional appeal of what is heroic, adventurous, remote, mysterious, or idealized…
Westerns invariably have few loner men at odds against many, seeking vigilante justice, standing for what is right against a hypocritical villain who isn’t true to his word. In these movies the heroes firmly stick to their moral code, and have no need to take public opinion polls prior to taking decisive action.
Of course, our romantic version of the West is not the way it really went down. It wasn’t really like Appaloosa, with the good guys giving the bad guys a chance to draw first out of a sense of honor. In fact, it was more like today’s reality, with most people getting shot in the back.
There is another type of loner hero that I identify with: The Southern author. Mark Twain, William Faulkner, Earnest Hemingway, Willie Morris, and so on…
These guys are like cowboys in a way. They too could see what was right and wrong, regardless of popularity. Not being able to shoot their enemies must have been a curse for these men. Perhaps that limitation is what drove them all to drink so much. Instead of strapping on six shooters, they resorted to living on the edge of town, getting lost in their bottles, talking to their dogs too much, and writing scathing satire….
The similarities between cowboys and authors are there. For not being blind to the hypocrisies of your fellow man is a heavy burden to bear.
Perhaps I like the Doc Holliday characters so much because they are an amalgamation of both the cowboy and Southern author?
I believe tonight I have will have a drink and talk to my dog about just this very topic. For in the absence good old fashioned shootout or hanging options, my whiskey and my keyboard are all that I have to help me endure. The villain whose hypocricy is in question tonight? My wife’s attorney. Who I have about the same opinion of as Doc Holliday does of Dave Rutabagh:
Dave Rutabagh is an ignorant scoundrel! I disapprove of his very existence. I considered ending it myself on several occasions, but… self-control always got the better of me.