by Stanley Corkin
This is beautifully documented and analyzed in the book, Cowboys as Cold Warriors, by Stanley Corkin
makes a fascinating and compelling argument that Western films released from 1946-1962 helped sell and rationalize the United States stance in regard to the Cold War and ultimately our venture into Vietnam.
The glamorous image of the cowboy taming the west was a cinematic reflection of the foreign policy of the United States in the world.
emphasizes the fact that many of these Western films "responded to and influenced the cultural climate of the country.
Cowboys as Cold Warriors takes a close look at considerations that lead to how "these cultural productions both embellished the myth of the American frontier and reflected the era in which they were made."
The book also teaches us how to watch a film.
is very detailed about the construction and visual design of Westerns that reinforce individualism and value the choice of conquest over domestication.
In the classic western film, Red River, Corkin
analysis of the film details the cultural foundation upon which the U.S. conducts its foreign relations and how film can sell to the culture the kind of expansionism that says we have a right almost, and duty to conquer other lands, subjugate other people, all in the name of commerce and democracy.
Referring to Kennedy's inauguration speech about our history of the frontier, which was, quoting from Corkin
, " the defining moments of American imperialism when the 'traditions' of indigenous peoples or of those outside the social or economic systems of the United States were disregarded, when inhabited lands with their own histories were treated as though they were virgin lands.
Kennedy asks his
audience to forget such historical incidentals and to bring the single mindedness of continental expansion to a wide range of situations, not the least of which were 'unresolved problems of peace and war.
Here is another quote from Corkin about Red River that defines this perfectly: "For example, Red River (1948) reveals a fascination with the development of a business strategy that rewards centralized production and the seeking of far-flung markets.
Stanley Corkin is a social critic and professor of literature at University of Cincinnati.
has written an important book and it needs to be read by those who work to democratize our institutions and also people who work hard to make ends meet, and for some reason think that the condition of our society and our own workplace is best left to "strong leaders" and cowboys in waiting.