not herded cattle
Movie heroes and their prototypes: the Hollywood myth about cowboys turned out to be far from reality
Elements of a cowboy image: hat, scarf, plaid shirt
The dashing heroes from American Westerns, scorching from two-handed colts, are nothing more than fiction, another Hollywood myth that significantly distorts reality. In fact, in the daily life of cowboys there was much less heroism, romance and firing from revolvers. What really were the dashing guys of the Wild West, who became symbols of American culture?
The screen image of a cowboy is a handsome macho man of European appearance, hung with weapons. In fact, a third of the cowboys were black, freed and sought work, and a quarter were Indians! Not all of them could afford weapons: a cowboy (that is, a “shepherd”) earned an average of $ 25 a month, and weapons at that time were more expensive. Continue reading
He put on a poncho and jeans or boots with a narrowed cape and a wide leather belt, a hat and a shirt with braid, a bandana or a bolo tie (aka a cowboy tie) – and it’s immediately clear: this is a cowboy style. In order to become like the hero of a western, it is not necessary to dress up in a full-fledged costume: the inhabitants of the West and the filmmakers have done enough to ensure that each individual part of the wardrobe sends the viewer to the familiar image of a rider jumping along the prairies. Continue reading
Cowboy did become a frequent hero of tabloid novels and large-circulation newspapers in the 1870–80s, but, as Lonn Taylor convincingly showed, his image, although heroic, was not uniform. In the 1880s, he turns out to be more antisocial: “a rude, dangerous, recalcitrant and daring individualist,” in any case, when fate confronts him with a sedentary urban population. The new image was created by the middle class of Eastern America, where farming was very strong, and this image was very literary. This can be seen not only from a comparison of the cowboys with the medieval knights of Thomas Malory and the popularity of the one-on-one duel at exactly noon, like a knightly duel, but also from the European origin of some “western” topoi. Continue reading