Thursday, April 22, 2010
In the Good Bad and Ugly, Italian directors once again portray the American cowboys as savage and ruthless beasts. The cowboys throughout the film appear willing to kill anyone that crosses them in order to gain the reward at the end of the film. This also plays into the theme of the Capitalist and greedy Americans trying to gain more money and a larger share of the world economy. Essentially, Italian directors are portraying the Americans as ruthless and greedy creatures who will stop at nothing to make their money.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
From a cultural studies perspective, spaghetti westerns like the The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and Navajo Jo provide an Italian critique of the American classical western, and correspondingly, American society itself. The films take aspects from the classical western and exaggerate them to demonstrate, with unmistakable clarity, the foolishness and barbaric nature of the behavior. Since the classical western is a reflection of American culture, the Italian mockery of the genre also ridicules Americans. The evidence within both films of the characters’ greed and prioritization of money over all else provides a sharp jab at the American free market. Furthermore, the careless killing appears to scorn the nation’s quick use of violent force.
Navajo Joe another “spaghetti western” looks upon American society unfavorably as well. Early in the movie the town realizes the problems they are facing. Joe offers his advice by saying. “There’s only one way to get rid of your problems, kill him.” This film portrays Americans as extremely violent and that violence is an answer to all of one’s problems. This movie also points to the racism in America. The two characters of Native American heritage Navajo Joe and Estella are seen as outsiders.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Spaghetti westerns portray the European’s view of Americans. Americans in these films are depicted as violent, money-driven individuals who are willing to use any means to get to a certain end.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
The violent nature of white Americans shown in both films is based on the U.S. involvement in Vietnam in 1966. Because the films were produced by Italian directors, it is clear that Europeans had viewed Americans as overstepping their boundaries, as reflected through Duncan and Angel Face's violent nature. The Civil War playing out in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly again symbolizes Americans' violent nature.
Also, one of the movies shows reversal of roles. In the movie Navajo Joe we see that he (a native Indian) has been portrayed as the hero and the American white men are the bad guys, we see how Joe saves the entire village. In the regular Western, the Natives were always shown as the inferior class and the White American as the good guys.
In the movie The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, we see that all the three main characters are continuously willing to kill each other. The gold makes them all the more violent. They constantly make promises and break them. It’s no big deal for them to break their word. All they cared was about themselves and how they could make more money. In the American Western we never see an Alpha male turning back from his word. Once he had said anything, that was engraved in the rocks. No one could change that.
We see how the perspective of the International Audience is completely different from the Americans. They feel that the Americans were not to be relied on nor were they really good people who cared for the society. They were violent, and very destructive. The natives who were thought of the Salvages in the American society were actually the real Hero’s in the mind of the International people.
Similarly, in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, the three main characters Blondie, Tuco, and Angel Eyes, all make multiple alliances and friendships throughout the film, but end up going against all of them in order to find the golden treasure. Each one is willing to back-stab the other in order to further himself in the journey to find and claim the treasure for himself. Because of this, the film is full of violence and shoot-outs, portraying the American west as an extremely violent place. This differs from American westerns where violence is present, but at a much smaller extent. Typically, American western films build up to a major encounter between two forces at the end, but the spaghetti westerns have violence throughout the entire film.
This hints towards the fact that foreign countries looked towards America as a self-serving country willing to use any type of force, whether justified or not, to achieve its goals.
Navajo Joe opens with the slaughter of Joe’s village by Duncan and his band of outlaws. This spaghetti western’s opening scene show the Indians as innocent people and the outlaws as violent murderers. They then scalp the bodies and try to get money for the scalps in town; when they hold the town under siege and attempt to rob the train that is coming with money, Navajo Joe saves the day. This movie has the roles of the Indians and the white cowboy reversed. In classic westerns, the alpha male cowboy is white and takes revenge on a band of Indians who ruthlessly attacked his family, such as in The Searchers. Navajo Joe depicts the brutal effects manifest destiny had on the Indians, slaughtered and pushed onto reservations to make way for the white man.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is an excessively violent film, which is characteristic of spaghetti westerns. In this film, Blondie, the alpha male cowboy, has unfaithful sidekicks who are interested in solely benefiting themselves. Blondie must trick them and fool them in order to survive and get his share of the gold. He is a unique alpha male cowboy because of this situation. He is not loyal to sidekicks since they are not loyal, and, as a result, he is only looking out for himself. He does not have any commitment to duty because he is only looking to benefit himself by finding gold. At the end, he even leaves Tuco, one of his sidekicks, in the desert with his share of the gold.
Spaghetti westerns are more violent than classic westerns. Many people, both those who are criminals and those who are innocent are murdered. Made by other counties as a comment on our society, spaghetti westerns depict America as a ruthless and violent country full of callous individuals who murder without thinking. The movies depict Americans as people who are violent by nature and looking out for their own self-interest.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
The second way The Unforgiven is a revisionist film is through the fact that it switches perspectives from the cowboy to the outlaw. The alpha male cowboy, Little Bill, is portrayed in a negative light and is viewed as over the top and brutal. He uses violence to assert his will, and to the audience, his will is unjust. The outlaw however, in this film Will, assumes the role of protagonist and though he uses violence to distribute justice. The justice is swift and results in the death of many men, but the viewer agrees with Will and his actions, despite of the fact that he is killing cowboys, the typical American hero.
Another revisionist theme in this movie is shown in Clint Eastwood’s character. Early in the movie the viewer learns that Eastwood’s character was once a ruthless killer and has since changed his ways. He credits his wife for these changes saying “she cured me of my wickedness.” Eastwood’s character emphasizes how his wife brought religion to his life. This differs from the view of the cowboy in traditional westerns. Getting married and giving into religion where things the cowboy that would not be seen by the cowboy in traditional westerns.
One thing about the traditional cowboy that remains constant in this film is the cowboy’s sense of duty. That being said Eastwood’s duty differs from that of the traditional cowboy. In this movie Eastwood agrees to go on the man hunt in order to provide for his children. We saw for the first time a less selfish sense of duty presented by the alpha male cowboy.
Western films typically portray blacks and women as the "other". They are never given strong roles and they are treated with less respect. In this film, Morgan Freeman plays Ned Logan, a black cowboy who is treated as an equal. This shows the changes in the West, compared to traditional Westerns films. Throughout the film, Willian Munny (Clint Eastwood) shows respect and appreciation for Ned. Bill doesn't want to complete his mission without Ned and acts histerical after Ned dies. This shows the large amount of respect that Bill has for Ned in the film, which is very uncommon for an alpha male to have that much repect for a black character.
This film also portrays Willian Munny (Clint Eastwood) as an alpha male cowboy. Although Bill isn't the strongest of the cowboys because he had trouble getting on his horse in the beginning of the film, Bill is still stong enough to be considered an alpha male. Bill's character shows the pain and stuggles that the alpha male must endure and that it is a duty that is not fit for any man. Bill has feelings which hold him back from being a true alpha male because he feels regrets when he fires his gun and has a strong bond with Ned. This is uncommon for an alpha male and this shows how throughout time, the alpha male cowboy has weakened.
Also, talking about the Alpha male character of Clint Eastwood, we see some of the typical characteristics of the Alpha male and some of the hybrid qualities. We see that his character was one that went on killing other men, women and children just because he wanted to do it and thought it was right. On the other hand we also see the part, where he is a family man, and wants to take care of his children, educate them, so that he can give them a good life. He respects his wife and although she is dead, he is not able to get involved with any other women physically. His only purpose of life had become his children. He take up the job of killing those cowboys, who had cute the women so that he can get some reward money and use it for the better lifestyle of his children. We see two different faces of the cowboy in this movie.
In revisionist westerns, women are typically viewed as housewives, but in The Unforgiven, the women are prostitutes. After one of the prostitutes gets attacked for laughing at her clients “size,” the women feel the need to rightly punish the attacker. The sheriff says that the only punishment the attacker and his ally will receive is a debt to the owner of the prostitutes; seven ponies. The women are upset at this punishment because they thought the men should have been whipped or even subject to death. Consequently, the women attempt to get justice. This is not typical of women in classic westerns because women usually don’t fight for what they want. These women were very headstrong, in that sense.
Clint Eastwood’s character, Bill Munny, is the alpha male cowboy; however he is different from the typical alpha male cowboys of classic westerns. Munny does not travel alone, and his main partner is an African American. This is uncommon in traditional westerns because the alpha male cowboy travels alone and let alone is he considered equal to an African American. Munny also has a family at home, which is also untypical of alpha males in classic westerns due to their being alone. In the end, Munny kills many innocent people. Usually the alpha male cowboy only kills and acts out of the “greater good.”
This film is very revisionist in many ways. The most important way is that the alpha male is getting revenge not for a family member, not solely for a woman, but for the death of his good friend, who happens to be an African American.
Clint Eastwood's character, William Munny, is the alpha male cowboy in the film. His character also strays from the normal mold of western films, just like Ned's. Previously, the alpha male cowboy was regarded as heroic, because even though he killed people, it was always the villain he killed, which could be justified. All of his actions were for the greater good. However, Munny's past is constantly brought up, and the viewers learn that he killed many people. The way he describes it gives the audience the feel that he regrets many of the decisions he made, and gives a negative connotation to the notion of killing people. By the end of the film, Munny takes innocent lives, thus painting a negative image of himself. This change is yet another factor that classifies The Unforgiven as a revisionist film.
Morgan Freeman’s character further breaks the mold of the traditional western. Freeman plays Ned Logan, a black cowboy and partner-in-crime to Bill Munny. Ned represents the black character, formerly cast off as an “other,” acquiring equal status with the alpha male. Bill repeatedly demonstrates his respect for Ned and commitment to their camaraderie. He refuses to take part in the mission without his old partner and in the end, is driven back to his deranged behavior after Ned’s murder.
Unforgiven is a revisionist western because of how it depicts Morgan Freeman’s character, Ned. Ned is Munny’s partner, showing that they are equals. Even when they are traveling, usually an African American character would be at the back but Ned is not; instead their order is constantly switching, showing that no one has more power than the other. They agree with Kid to split the reward money equally three ways, which is unusual since in other westerns, African Americans are not considered equals and so would not receive equal pay. Most African Americans in westerns are uneducated, but it becomes apparent that Ned is intelligent. He figures out why Kid cannot, tricking him into believing that there is a hawk in the sky to prove his theory that Kid is nearsighted. Ned’s importance and significance is shown in Munny’s acts of revenge, which adds to the plot. Ned is important enough to Munny for him to kill several men for revenge of Ned’s murder; typically the revenge is solely for something that has been done to a woman. In other westerns, the murder of a black would not matter, but Munny even calls Ned his friend and partner, proving Ned’s significance.
Munny is the alpha male cowboy who has a dark past filled with killing and drinking. He fulfills his duty, helping Kid kill the men who hurt the prostitute; he also got revenge for Ned by killing Skinny and Little Bill. He threatens to return and kill other if Ned is not properly buried or if any of the prostitutes are hurt. He is unique since he changed his ways, married, and had children, whom he returns to. He also remains loyal to his dead wife, rejecting the prostitutes’ offers. He also has Ned, his partner and friend, with whom he is equals, when many alpha males work alone. Munny’s unique characteristics make him easier for men of the time to relate to since during the 1990s the majority of the population settled down and had families.
Monday, April 5, 2010
The way Bill Munny talks about his past in the film makes it seem like he made only mistakes and violence in the current situation is not the best path. He is almost pathetic at times, because he is so weak without his wife. When he actually shoots one of the hunted cowboys, he immediately feels bad while Ned backs out altogether. Also, the boy who brags about how many men he is killed is shown in a negative light, which again degrades the alpha males status because violence is not the answer.
Ned Logan's status as an equal is one of the main elements that makes this film revisionist. Traditionally, blacks were not viewed as partners in any western before this one. Pompey for example, was just Tom Donophin's sidekick. Ned's character is almost a bigger man than Bill because he knows when to back down. He shows additional strength when he refuses to give Bill's whereabouts to the sheriff while being whipped. In the end, Bill avenges him, proving that blacks, even in the 19th century when this was set, were worth avenging.
The prostitutes in the film also take on an increased role that revises women's previous roles in Westerns. Women were traditionally the motive behind the alpha-male's actions, but never really took action until the 1970's (with some exceptions). In The Unforgiven, the women are the ones who want revenge on their peer, and take action in doing so. Granted, they need cowboys to actually kill the men, but they use their resources to accomplish the goal and are smart in hiring someone so they don't get blamed for murder.
All factors considered, this film constitutes revisionism in three ways. Even with women being abused and Bill Munny eventually shooting everyone, roles among the different sexes and races are significantly altered to glorify someone other than the white alpha male cowboy for once.
Clint Eastwood’s character, William Munny, is an alpha male cowboy, but in a much darker sense. He seems to lack respect for the law and the town, in exchange for revenge for Logan. At the end of the film, he kills Little Bill and threatens anyone else who even crosses his eyes. It’s a movement away from the typical alpha male cowboy and establishes a much more violent and ruthless one in its place. He still is fighting for good to a degree, but he is hurting many innocent and undeserving people along the way.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Two Mules for Sister Sarah is more of a different type of otherness. Sarah, a prostitute in disguise, has been tricking and coxing Hogan into helping her. However, she also manages to save his life twice and contribute to their overall journey. Sarah is a strong character because she is able to stand up in times of need and be brave and needed. But at the same time, she plays into the role of the other by disguising her true identity, along with lying to Hogan about who she is and what she is really doing. This film, made in 1970, is just after the civil rights movement and plays towards the role of women having a stronger role in society. They have found that at times, you need to disguise who you are in order to accomplish things and gain respect from others.
The leader of the band of outlaws is an ex-army officer by the name of Jack Bruhn. Bruhn wants as little trouble as possible to come to the members of the town and thus tell the town members to hide the alcohol and that his men will not bother the towns women. While the women of the town stick up to some of the devious outlaws and are respected, they still require the protection of the town men and even Jack Bruhn.
While the women in the film are more independent than women of the past, they are still powerless against the will of the outlaws and the men of the town. They do as they are told and respect the men. In this film, one woman in particular sticks out as a strong woman. Helen defends her marriage and is a key player in the effort to resolve the issue between the ranchers and the cowboys. However, in the end the alpha male cowboy Starrett must take responsibility to save the town from the outlaws. He sacrifices himself and leads the outlaws down a harsh path in an attempt to have the outlaws kill each other off. In the face of true adversity, the alpha male is still called upon to make things right. While women in the 1950s were fighting for civil rights, the men still dominated society.
When a team of outlaws take over a town the captain gives his word that the his men will not destroy the town or take advantage of the women under two conditions, that he stay alive and the members of the town obey his wishes. Throughout this movie the women are powerless. There is nothing they can do or say in their current situation. If it wasn’t for the captaining ordering his men to stay away from them it is obvious his men would take advantage of these women. This movie shows that even though women were creating a stir about how they should be treated equally in society little progress was being made.
In Johnny Guitar, two women, Vienna and Emma, are the main characters that drive the plot. Johnny Guitar, the alpha male cowboy in this film, also displays feminine qualities such as musical talent and the encouragement of dancing. The Vienna and Emma appear to be modeled after the classical alpha male cowboy by wearing pants, having guns and knowing how to use them, running and owning businesses, and are eventually engaged in a duel between the two of them. Both women use action over words and are constantly in the limelight of the film, a role typically reserved for males.
In Two Mules for Sister Sarah, the main character is a woman named Sarah who consistently outsmarts the males throughout the film. She first poses as a prostitute dressed as a nun, a symbol of the two escapes from the control of men for women. Neither prostitutes or nuns have to answer to the will of men. The alpha male cowboy in this film, Hogan, relies on Sarah to save his life more than once. However, Hogan also saves Sarah's life which may symbolize that they are equals in this film.
Despite of their differences to stereotypical western women, the women of Johnny Guitar and Two Mules for Sister Sarah represent "otherness" to the alpha male cowboy. The alpha male cowboy is an individual surrounded by a world that they can't relate to. He must have a strong moral center because in the West, a man makes his own law. In both films, the alpha male cowboy needs to overcome obstacles including the changing role of women. Also, the alpha male cowboy becomes a more prominent player when the women face adversity.
In Johnny Guitar, the women still show flashes of the typical western woman despite their differences. Vienna needs protection and let's her emotions take hold of her in the end. Emma is completely driven by emotion. The film shows the value of the alpha male in several ways. The title of the film is the name of the alpha male cowboy, Johnny is the one who has to react and adapt to situations/adversity, and in the end, the film wouldn't have function properly without the alpha male cowboy. From a cultural studies perspective, the world of the 1950's still relied on masculinity despite the changing role of women.
The 1970s, when Two Mules for Sister Sarah was released, was a decade filled with civil rights movements. The American public was calling for revolution through Anti-war protests, the black power movement, and the women's rights movement. The men of the 1970s were also becoming liberated from their masculine constraints of the past. They began to express their emotions while women were fighting for equality. However, American society still relied on masculine attributes and men to be successful, which is represented well in Two Mules for Sister Sarah.
In the film Two Mules for Sister Sara, Sara a prostitute saves a man’s life (Hogan) twice, on two different occasions, this interchanges the role of damsel in distress, a far cry from Ethan’s niece in The Big Trail. Through being a prostitute Sara receives insight on the mentality of men and she uses it to influence men to follow her idea to attack the French fortress. But prostitution is not her only forte, but she also can act, and is manipulative enough to work the processes of a completely opposite job, a nun.
Both films correspond with the current times, women slowly but assuredly gaining more respect, women of different occupations, movies now show the plight of women and the hardships they go through due to patriarchal propaganda.
The role of women in the 1959 film, "The Day of the Outlaw," is somewhat unique within the western genre. Unlike the traditional western, women are certainly not excluded from the central plot. In fact, the entire movie centers around caring for and protecting the female characters. They are consistently shown voicing their opinions and do not immediately obey the orders of the men as in earlier films.
However, although the women are respected and honored, they are by no means treated as equals. In actuality, this film objectifies its female characters even more blatantly than the films of the previous decades. The women are regarded by the outlaws as mere "pleasures," repeatedly placed in the same category as whiskey. The head of the outlaws states, "my men won't molest your women unless I give them permission." In this scene he is depicted as righteous and moral for protecting the women. Yet, the statement itself insinuates that he has the right to allow his men to sexually assault the females.
In many ways, the film does show great respect for women. They are genuinely cared for and held in high regard. This aspect reflects attitudes of the late 1950s, the time the film was made, which marked the beginning stages of the women's movement. However, the mindset of the outlaws, which belittles and objectifies the females, reflects the same time period's opposition to women's rights and rejection of women as equal members of society.
Monday, March 22, 2010
In the movie we see at a number of times when “Tex” and “Pace” insisting “Bruhn” to give permission so that they could have sex with them. Time and again Bruhn denied their request. Also, in the movie, on the last say when they had a social night and the women were called over for dance, Tex tries to kiss one of the women and Bruhn notices that and stops him, and asks the lady for dance with all the respect.
Another thing we see in the movie is that women, respect the decisions that they made in the past. As in when “Helen” who got married to “Hal” due to situations, respected the fact that “Hal” was his husband for her entire life. She made in very clear to “Blaise” who she loved, that she would dedicatedly be “Hal” wife even though she did not love him. She also, told “Blaise” that they would have a very formal relation and “Blaise” stay out of her life. Although “Blaise” was the tough Alpha male, “Helen” was not afraid to tell her what she felt and push him out of her life.
In Johnny Guitar, the two women characters Vienna and Emma become focal points throughout the film. Kid is in love with Vienna, which is not an emotion the alpha male cowboy often displays. Vienna and Emma are very different characters, and are almost opposites. Vienna is more relaxed and calm while Emma is more uneasy and outspoken. Women are still portrayed as emotional and use language to express themselves. For example, Vienna tells Johnny that she loves him, letting her emotions get the best of her. As Tompkins states, “It is by putting words to an emotion that it becomes feminized” (56).
In Two Mules for Sister Sara, the other, Sara, is a prostitute who lies to Hogan telling him that she is a nun. Tompkins claims “It is precisely words that cannot express truth about things” (53); cowboys distrust language for this reason. Sara is still somewhat similar to the typical “other” role in westerns since she uses men to get what she wants; she depends on men. Tompkins goes on to explain how women are categorized with language to express their emotions, while men are categorized with action. Sara, however, does not use language to express her emotions but to lie. When Sara tries to tell Hogan the truth, he doesn’t listen, which is typical of the alpha male cowboy. Sara also does tasks outside of the “other” role by placing dynamite on the train tracks. Sara is different from the “other” characters, and uses language in a completely different way. “Language is gratuitous at best,” Tompkins says “at worst it is deceptive” (52).
Sunday, March 21, 2010
In the movie Johnny Guitar, which released in 1954 we see two female characters dominate the entire movie; Vienna and Emma. In the movie we can see that these two women play the role of the Alpha Male cowboy and the actual men are in the back drop. We see that Vienna builds her own casino and a place outside of the town. She is not scared even though the town people and the Marshal come and threaten her an ask her to shut it down. She is not at all scared, she knows that she is right and continues doing what she feels is right. She has men who are working for her and help her run her casino business. At the same time, we see Emma who is another string character in the movie, has a lot of influence on all the town people. She keeps influencing everyone and misleading so that she can get what she wants. At the end of the movie when all the town people go searching for the “Kid” and his associates, Emma does not sit back at home like all the other women do, she goes with everyone. She emerges as a very strong and influential woman.
We see that, women who played a very minute role in society during the earlier decades had then become a very significant part, important and influential part in the society. At the same time in the US there was the women’s rights movement that demanded for equal rights for men and women. Women had gained significant importance in the society.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
In Johnny Guitar, the two main women characters Vienna and Emma both play prominate roles in the film. Vienna uses her sexual appeal to influence the male characters. Vienna and Emma are two forces that constantly clash with each other and mimic traits of the alpha male cowboy. Since the mimic these traits, there can only be one alpha male so they constantly interfere with each other.
In the film Two Mules for Sister Sara, Sara takes on the couragous role and saves Hogan's life on two differnt occassions. She also presents more tactical characteristics by suggesting different ways to attack the French fortress. By occupation Sara is a prostitute but she uses this role to gain a way to influence men. She uses this influence to lie about being a nun.
Both these films feature strong women as the "other" and this reflects the rise of women in American society when these films were made. The earlier film only shows a slight prevelance of women because this was made when steps were just starting to be taken to create gender equality. The later film was made when the fight gender equality was in full effect and the film certianly shows this.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
In Johnny Guitar, Vienna and Emma are both others and Johnny Guitar is the alpha male cowboy and Kid is another cowboy. Johnny does not understand why Emma hates Vienna even when Vienna explain to him that it is because Emma is in love with the Kid but the Kid is in love with Vienna and how Emma’s feeling for the Kid frighten her. The Kid does not understand the emotions of either Vienna or Emma but is sure that he loves Vienna. Emma is a foil of Vienna. Emma acts on emotions while Vienna stays calm and in control of the situation. Vienna and Emma are both powerful women, but Vienna’s calm and control benefit her while Emma’s loose emotions hinder her especially when she tries to get the men to listen to her. Vienna does show her true emotions to Johnny, and their romance continues due to her weakness for him. Vienna says that she hired him for protection, showing that she is weak and cannot fully protect herself. Johnny rescues Vienna when she is about to be hanged, the typical damsel in distress who needs to be rescued. Emma wants Vienna dead but is scared of killing someone, which is evident by her telling others to make the mule move, resulting in Vienna’s hanging, but she eventually does it herself. Although the film seems to be focused on the actions of the women, it is still about the alpha male cowboy since he is the character who has changed and the film is named after him.
In the film Two Mules for Sister Sara, the woman lead, Sara, is a strong character, but clearly an outcast. She was forced to run from her French controled town for helping the Mexican army, and travels alone until Hogan finds her. Sara is also dressed as a nun, in order to hide her true identity of a prostitute. She knows that nuns are given much more respect than prositutes, and plays her part convincingly in order to survive. She plays a major role in Hogan's plan to overtake her villiage to steal money from the French. Sara's role is one of a strong female, which can be explained through the Civil Rights Movement, which was completed a few years before the film was created, in 1970. Women were granted many more rights than before, and were beginning to be allowed into the workforce. They began playing bigger roles in society than simply raising a family and preforming domestic chores. Sara represents a strong female character with many differences from the earlier western films, where women stayed in town caring for the children and tending to the household chores while the men explored the land.
However, both films still maintain some acknowledgement of women as the "other". For Sister Sara to accomplish her goals, she relies heavily on men. She lies to Hogan by pretending to be a nun so that he'll take her along to guarentee her safety. Through prostitution she uses men for their money. Initially, she comes across as needy and relies too heavily on religion and verbal communication, wasting Hogan's time and water and being too sensitive to eat real food because it was made by men who tried to rape her. Here, Hogan is clearly epicted as the stronger being. In Johnny Guitar, Vienna readily agrees to let Johnny Guitar protect her after she becomes involved with the dancin kid.
The reasons the women in the film are portrayed in a positive light as opposed to their traditional secondary role in westerns is because of history. Events prior to Rowe vs. Wade sparked the feminism in Hollywood.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
High Noon, made in 1952, starts the journey to the alteration of women’s roles. Amy Kane just got married to Marshall Will Kane. When Amy discovers that her husband decided to stay in town to permanently get rid of the town tyrant, she leaves. Will thought it was best for her to not be there when anything happens; he states "I know it’s against your religion and all." Amy knows that there is a chance that her husband could die and she doesn’t want to wait around until she becomes a widow. Amy runs into woman named Helen Ramirez. It is apparent that Helen is a strong woman when she decides to leave town after her secret relationship is revealed. Helen runs into Amy, and Amy tells her the reason why she is leaving town. Helen tells Amy that she should be there for her husband, even if she doesn’t agree with his tactics. Amy takes Helen’s advice and goes back to her husband. Ironically, Amy ends up saving Will’s life by killing the town tyrant. Both Amy and Helen’s roles show how it is important to be there for your husband even if you don’t agree with him. But, in a way, it also shows that what a woman says or thinks is not as important as what a man says or thinks; men and women are not equal in that aspect. Tompkins argues this is because “For a man to speak of his inner feelings not only admits parity with the person he is talking to, but it jeopardizes his status as potent being…” (p. 60).
Rooster Cogburn, made in 1975, portrays women in a stronger light. Eula Goodnight is a very outspoken woman. When the dandy’s were trying to scare Goodnight and her father, she continued to say a Bible verse aloud, even though the villain told her to be quiet. Goodnight constantly stood up for what she believed in. Goodnight’s character shows how women have changed since the Civil Rights Movement. Tompkins says that “women feel ashamed of their need to talk” (p. 61) which is no longer the case in this movie. Women, in the past, were not allowed to go with the men on their journeys. Goodnight, however sets a new standard. Goodnight stays by Rooster Cogburn through his dangerous journey to the West. Goodnight also uses a gun and helps Cogburn trick the criminals at the end of the movie by telling them Cogburn was dead, when he wasn’t. Lastly, Goodnight speaks up for Cogburn in court, allowing him to be reinstated. It is clear that this movie was made after the Civil Rights Movement because of this sudden change in women’s roles in the West.
The Ballad of Little Jo, made in 1993, demonstrates the most change in the role of women in the West. Josephine is the strongest woman character out of all three movies. Josephine takes care of the livestock, learns how to use a gun, and minds for gold; these tasks are usually associated with men. Usually men are viewed as loners who live on their own. Tompkins quotes Octavio Paz “…definition of macho as a ‘hermetic being, closed up in himself’” (p. 56). Tompkins goes on to say “The male, by remaining ‘hermetic,’ ‘closed up,’ maintains the integrity of the boundary that divides him from the world” (p. 56). In this film, however Tinman moves in with Josephine. Tinman tends to household activities such as cooking and cleaning, which is typically the woman’s job. During this period, women were able to have the same jobs as men and were not only viewed as domestic beings. This film showed this dramatic change in women’s roles in not only the West, but also in society.
In the film The Ballad of Little Jo, the main character, Jocelyn, is forced to dress like a man in order to escape her past after a moment of weakness in the face of her family by sleeping with the photographer. In the new town she becomes completely self dependent and even able to use a gun to prove that she had made the transition and could take on the same tasks as a man. Thompkins contests that women are constantly the secondary characters and that they are there for dialogue and to spur on the men in the story. However, Jo goes against these beliefs and is able to provide for herself and establish herself on an even plain.
In Rooster Cogburn, Rooster is a local sheriff who has been stripped of his badge and is forced to chase down the outlaw, Breed, in order to attain the status of sheriff again. During his travels he meets a young woman, Eula Goodnight, and begins to foster a relationship with her. During the film, Eula is able to breakdown Rooster and, through conversation and language, has him let his guard down and express his beliefs and feelings. Thompkins states that women’s use of language is weak and that it only serves to make them inferior and that “opening up” only worsens their position. However, seeing when this film was made, the second coming of the feminist movement, shows that woman can have an impact and that her use of language and words is something that is valued and worthwhile. Not something that is inferior.
High Noon, Will Kane is the local sheriff who has to stand up to the local bad guy, Miller, and his gang. Throughout the film, we are introduced to the character Amy who is against violence and favors peaceful results instead of violence as an answer. However, in the end, she joins Kane in the fight to help him not only defend the town, but to support him in protecting his own self. Thompkins states that in the face of adversity and hardship, women put aside differences and support their man in their time of need. Something Amy did with full commitment.
In The Ballad of Little Jo, High Noon, and Rooster Cogburn, there appear to be strong women who play important roles. Although they appear strong, they have moments where they are dependent and show weakness, which sets them apart of the alpha male cowboy and other males in general.
In The Ballad of Little Jo, women are disrespected. As an “other”, Jo will never truly fit into the west the way males did. Even though Jo helps a salesman when she is traveling out west, he then tries to pimp her to others they pass on their journey. When there is an actual prostitute in the movie, she disobeys the wishes of Percy and as a result gets her face slashed. When Percy discovers her secret, he feels disrespected and tries to win dominance over her by attempting to rape her. The person she connects with is Tinman, a Chinese railroad worker and another “other”. Although she connects with him since they are both outsiders who do not belong, the end reveals the truth about feelings towards women in the west. When Jo dies, her secret is revealed to the town. The men respond in disrespectful ways, destroying her home and tying her body to her horse to take pictures. Jo reveals her weaknesses when he saves Tinan from being hanged and when she has trouble killing another person.
In High Noon, Amy appears to be weak at first, telling Kane that she will leave even if he will not. Once the fighting starts, she cannot let Kane die and shoots one of the rebels. Even as a hostage she realizes she must help in order for her husband and herself to survive. She ends up attacking Miller, resulting in her escape and Kane shooting him. Although her actions are strong, her weakness is revealed in that she could not leave Kane and is dependent on him. As a woman, she let her feelings get in the way of her intended actions.
In Rooster Cogburn, Eula goodnight is a proper woman, having worked with her father at his missionary. She wants revenge on Hawk and his gang since they killed her father. She journeys with Cogburn, telling him he needs to change his ways and that he is not proper, drinking all the time and being so violent. She ends up becoming a little more like him while he becomes a little more like her; the two extremes move more towards the middle ground as a result of the feelings they develop for each other. Eula tries to hold back her feelings but gives them away at the end, although not quite confessing either. Her weakness is revealed in that she could not seek revenge on her own, but needs Marshal Cogburn’s help to hunt down Hawk.
In High Noon, the audience is introduced to a women of religion a Quaker who believes in peace and is against violence, in every aspect. She becomes the yin to the yang of her husband (Kane) as the cliché prescribes opposites attract. In the film Kane faces an obstruction by his nemesis Miller who is set out to kill him in sights of revenge. Already Amy has gone through numerous heart drenching losses due to guns, the deaths of her father and her brother. She decides to leave Hadleyville, as she can’t take any more violence. Thinking it’s the last of it, Amy then decides to stay and protect Kane, joining him in the gun brawl. The key word is protect, usually in westerns men protect the women playing the cliché damsel in distress but rather here the woman has taken the hard way out and joined the men in combat to fight for the man she loves, and this is the beginning of strong women.
“When your back is to the wall you find out that what you want most is not to save your eternal soul-if it exists-but to live, in the body.” In Rooster Cogburn, John Wayne finds a woman and an Indian native boy, when he learns the Eula is the daughter of a reverend killed in attack he decides to take them home to safety. Eula and Wolf (the Indian native) decide to buy supplies and help Cogburn find Breed. “The loneliness comes from knowing you can’t contact another person’s feelings or actions, no matter how hard you try.” But in the case of Eula she tried and broke the language barrier between woman and cowboy earning the respect of Cogburn, and earning the respect to be viewed as a substantial character in Rooster Cogburn.
The Ballad of Little Jo is a story of a woman who dresses up as a man in escape of the prejudice issued with women. She is respected in the town as a male sheep herder, and it is truly evident that she is only respected because of her self-proclaimed gender. When she is faced with aggression brought on by another cattle company opting to buy all the land, she does not take the easy way out even though its obvious death makes her queasy, she instead fights and kills two men, so she can have her right and her land. Things only men in westerns would do if the film was made in the 1930’s or the 1940’s. For once in a western the women is established as the hero of the movie, and she proclaims the role of alpha male. In the 1990’s many women became super powers, Rikki Lake, Oprah Winfrey and this was transcribed to them.
The three films High Noon, Rooster Cogburn, and The Ballad of Little Jo all depict a changing attitude towards women, both in the western genre and in American culture. In earlier films, women were among the 'others,' playing only minor supporting roles in the shadow of the main focus, the alpha male cowboy. However with the ongoing Women's Movement of the 20th century, a distinct change also becomes evident in the film's of period. These three films depict strong-willed women, for the first time, assuming lead roles and dramatically affecting the films' sequence of events. In High Noon, it is Amy who emerges as the film's ultimate hero. She is portrayed as feminine and ethical, yet still courageous and competent, taking action to shoot the villain and save her husband's life. In a similar scene, in Rooster Cogburn, Eula also saves alpha male cowboy, Rooster's, life by shooting a man about to kill the cowboy. Both instances portray women breaking out of the traditional womanly role and into the direct action of the story."They may seem strong and resilient, fiery and resourceful at first," states Tompkins evaluating the role of women in earlier westerns, "but when push comes to shove, as it always does, they crumble." Clearly the tides have begun to turn as female characters like Amy and Eula emerge on the western scene and prove themselves increasingly more competent as the story progresses. However, the ultimate liberation from the traditional role of the suppressed female comes in the form of Josephine in The Ballad of Little Jo. The completely self-sufficient woman takes center stage, completely contradicting the female 'other' position. In many ways, she takes on the role of alpha male cowboy herself. She is independent and competent in both male and female duties. Like Amy and Eula, Jo also ends up ultimately saving the day by shooting two villains. Clearly, when push comes to shove, the women of High Noon, Rooster Cogburn, and The Ballad of Little Jo far from crumble. They exemplify the evolving mind-set towards women both in the western genre and in the 20th century United States.
In High Noon, Amy is originally portrayed as someone who would rather avoid conflict. She wants to leave town and let Kane fight his own battle, but picks up the sense of duty and decides to stay and fight. In this film, she moves out of her shell and makes the transformation from seeing no use in fighting to staying and fighting.
In Rooster Cogburn, Eula shows undoubtedly shows couragous qualities by joining Cogburn to find Breed. This shows that she wants to seek revenge on Breed for killing her father. Her actions show that even women have the power to help catch criminals and kill. Eula is able to break down Cogburn's character and form a close bond that she learns from. This close bond is what enables her to fulfill the duties that the male character typicall have. This close bond was formed through their verbal communication. Tompkins states on page 66 that "Women, like language, remind men of their own interiority; women's talk evokes a whole network of familial and social relationships and their corollaries in teh emotional circuitry." This quote shows the relationship between Eula and Cogburn. Their talking really enhanced their bond and helped them become as close as they are.
The Ballad of Jo shows another strong woman who fulfills the roles typically associated with the alpha male. The lead woman in this role actually poses as a man and acts like one. Jo eventually is faced with a conflict and is forced to resolve this conflict the way the men do. Jo however, isn't comfortable taking another person's life. She eventually kills out of duty but has trouble overcoming the fact that she killed someone. Her role can be compared to the women in our society that dressed as men in order to get work and support their families. Once these women's true identities were revealed, they would be fired. This is similar to the consequences that Jo faced when her town learned her true identity.