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.
We saw a bit of a transition in the movie “The man who shot Liberty Valance”; but that was nothing in compared to what we see in these three movies.
In the movie Little Jo we see how Josephine, who sleeps with a photographer, is removed from her town. She does not lose hope or gives up like one would think traditional women would do. She fights for herself, make a new image of her, learns to live life her way.
In the movie high noon, the two strong characters are Helen Ramirez, and Amy Kane. They stand up for what they feel is right. If they feel that their husband is wrong they don’t sit back quietly doing nothing. They stand up and fight. If they know that someone has done wrong with their husband, they are not afraid to stand up and fight for them.
Tompkins states that, women are no good when it comes to fighting. All they do is follow what men tell them to do, and they cannot stand up for themselves. We see that in these movies the scene has completely changed. We can surely assume that these changes in the movies are due to the civil rights movement for the women. The increasing power of women, the change in social status of women at that point of time.
Helen Ramirez and Amy Kane in High Noon may have been the first women in Westerns to push forward the feminist movement. Helen is not afraid to leave her husband and start a new life out west, while Amy actually saves the protagonists life in the end, proving herself strong. This type of behavior is very atypical for women in Westerns. Tompkins asserts, "(A woman) sees herself as he sees her, silly, blathering on about manly business that is none of her concern, and beneath it all really asking for sex" (Tompkins 61). It is evident in High Noon that the strong females break away from their traditional role to represent a more powerful breed of women. This film was created in 1952, shortly the end of WWII. Women took on increased roles in as workers factories, assuming the jobs of their husbands who were shipped off to war. The U.S. economy relied heavily on women, and this was greatly reflected in High Noon when the women save the day.
Jane Tompkins also wrote that women "may seem strong and resilient, fiery and resourceful at first but when push comes to shove, as it always does, they crumble." Eula Goodnight, in Rooster Cogburn, however, does not fold under pressure. She follows Rooster to avenge her father's death and proves to be independent and powerful. She can even handle a gun. This film was created 8 years after the civil rights act, and the equal rights amendment, both of which opened up opportunities for women. Again, these new roles are exemplified through Eula Goodnight.
Little Jo is definitely the best example of a woman taking on a deeper role. Josephine dressing up like a man and taking on his role symbolizes that a woman can do anything a man can. This is a drastic statement regarding the importance of equality. Jo runs away alone, fights off sex-obsessed men, and learns practical tasks, normally associated with a man. In the end, when the paper shows, "Rancher Jo was a Woman," it is obvious that there is much bewilderment and leaves the viewer assuming people realize the aftermath. Clearly, women have come a long way since 1952 and in 1993, with women in almost every power position.
Clearly, the role of women has expanded since the dawn of the Western. High Noon, Rooster Cogburn, and the Ballod of Little Jo are three significant examples of cultural reflections in Hollywood.
In High Noon, the main character, Will Kane marries a Quaker woman named Amy Fowler. Kane is the marshal of the town for one more day, and on this day, Frank Miller, a killer he put in jail years ago, has returned seeking revenge. As a powerful male figure, Kane accepts his duty to the people of Hadleyville to remain and face near certain death. Kane has no diplomatic intentions, and knows that the only way to settle the dispute is through the law of the gun. Amy, a pacifist by religion, has seen her father and brother die because of guns. Amy does not understand Kane's decision to stay and fight Miller and his sidekicks. She chooses to leave Kane behind and to take the twelve o'clock train out of Hadleyville, the same time Miller will be arriving. As Tompkins explains: "... a set of oppositions [are] fundamental to the way the Western thinks about the world. There are two choices: either you can remain in a world of illusions, by which is understood religion, culture, and class distinctions... or you can face life as it really is -- blood, death, a cold wind blowing, and a gun in the hand (48)." Amy's decision to protect Kane and join him in the gun fight symbolizes the beginning of the women's equality movement. By facing life as it really is, Amy establishes herself as a masculine woman,who Kane and the town of Hadleyville then see in a new light.
In Rooster Cogburn, John Wayne also plays a classic western sheriff, a man who shoots first and asks questions later. For this reason, the town judge removes his tin badge but gives Wayne's character Rooster Cogburn an ultimatum; if he chases down and brings the notorious criminal Breed to justice, his badge will be returned to him. During his pursuit of Breed, Cogburn arrives in Fort Ruby to find that Breed and his gang of criminals have already killed many members of the Indian residents. He finds a woman and an Indian boy and learns that the woman, Eula Goodnight, is the daughter of a reverend who was killed in the attack. After bringing Eula and the Indian boy, Wolf, to safety, Cogburn leaves to pursue Breed further. Eula and Wolf buy supplies and insist on joining Cogburn. For the rest of the film, the developing relationship between Cogburn and Goodnight is in the limelight. Goodnight uses language to break down Cogburn's stout introversion. Tompkins clarifies: "Drawing on Octavio Paz's definition of the macho as a 'hermetic being, closed up in himself' ("women are inferior beings because, in submitting, they open themselves up")". She continues, "Schwenger shows... ' it is by talking... that one opens up to another person and becomes vulnerable. It is by putting words to an emotion that it becomes feminized.'(56)" By engaging Cogburn in conversation throughout their journey, Goodnight breaks down Cogburn's defenses and begins to appreciate his masculinity and understand why he is the man he is. By 1975, when Rooster Cogburn was released, the second wave of the feminist movement was in full stride and while the second wave failed to establish that women had the same rights as men, it established that men needed to respect women as partners, not as a second sex. While Goodnight is still not quite equal to Cogburn by the end of the film, the two understand that there are gains to be had from having a mutual respect between them.
The Ballad of Little Jo tells the story of a woman choosing to pose as a man in order to escape both her past and the poor treatment women receive in the west during the 1880s. She creates a new life for herself in which the town respects her as a sheep herder. However, society only respects her because they believe she is a man; in scenes where Jo's true identity is found out, the male members of the scenes have a severely negative response and even express feelings of betrayal. When Jo is forced to fight against representatives from a cattle company who want to buy all the land in the area, it remains clear to the audience that she isn't as emotionally comfortable of killing others, even in the face of death. When she kills the two gun men, she struggles with the emotional consequences. Despite of this, she is established as the hero in the film and the citizens of Ruby City respect her as they would any man. In one of the last scenes, the citizens of Ruby City and Jo's friends discover that she was a woman after she dies. Her friends are angry and feel betrayed as if Jo played them. In the 1990's, despite women being established as equal to men, there still existed large amounts of prejudice in the workplace and in American society. The Ballad of Little Jo shows that women are just as capable of making a tough living as men, and that the reasons for prejudice against women lack depth and objectivity.
The film High Noon, filmed in 1952 begins the transformation of the woman's roel in Western films. There are two prominent women characters in this film, Helen Ramirez, and Amy Kane. Helen Ramirez leaves her husband when she finds out he told Marshall Will Kane about thier relationship, she stands up for herself and is not afraid to leave town and start a new life somewhere else. Amy Kane at first epitomizes the woman normally seen in Western films, until she meets Helen, who convinces Amy to return to town and help her husband Will. When she does, she ends up saving Will's life by shooting and kiling one of his attackers. This change in the role of women in this film, may have been affected by the Civil Rights movement which was right around the corner. Womena dn other minority groups were gathering support for equal rights, which influenced this film to gie women a stronger role to reflect the way the world was changing.
Rooster Cogburn, filmed in 1975 demonstrates an even stronger female role. The Civil Rights Act had already been in place for many years, and the woman's role in the household, and the workplace had changed since the forties and fifties. The change is represented in this film through the character of Eula Goodnight. Tomkins state, "[Women] may seem strong and resilient, fiery and resouceful at first, but when push comes to shove, as it always does, they crumble," (61) which is not the case whith Eula's character. Rooster Cogburn is on a mission to arrest an outlaw who is moving through the west, terrorizing any settlements he rides through. One settlement Cogburn arrives at, he meets Eula who insists on joining cogburn on his journey, because she wishes to avenge her father's death. As the alpha male cowboy, cogburn immediately denies her demand to acccompnay him, claiming htat this journey is no place for a woman. However, Eula follows cogburn and ends up journeying with him, and proves that she is a strong enough woman to endure the hardships. She surprises Cogburn by her skills with handling a gun, and being able to fend for herself. She ialso is not afraid to voice her opinion whenever she sees necessary. Eula is a very strong female character who does not conform to the usual role of women out west.
The film Little Jo, created in 1993, shows a complete turn around in the role of woemn from previous Western films. Josephine is banished from her house and her town for sleeping with the photographer. In order to escape this, she dresses herself as a man and move into a new town. She makes a new life for herself, etablished as a male. She learns to use a gun, mine for gold, herd sheep, create a settlement, and live on her own. Tompkins state, "The temperance ladies talk and talk, that is all they do. It never comes to shooting. Meanwhile they drive their husbands crazy with their cackle," (64). Here, Tompkins gives the impression that women are only good for talking and driving their husbands crazy. Joesphine's character goes against all of this by successfully making a life for herself in a man's world. This change is due tothe time period the film was made. In 1993, women had come a long way since 1940, and women holding respectful jobs became the norm.
In High Noon the bravery and strength of Amy is shown when she saves Will’s life at the end of the movie by killing Colby. However this movie reflects the view of the time period by perpetuating certain roles of women. When criminals show up in town to kill Will Amy states that she will leave her husband if decides to stay and fight them. Will would rather stay and fight and maybe die rather than run away. When Amy talks with Helen about her intentions to leave Helen scolds her. She says that she should stand by her husband. The idea behind this aspect of the movie is that a wife is supposed to stand by her husband and her husband’s decisions and that her opinion is second to his.
Rooster Cogburn, made in 1975 23 years after High Noon, shows an acceptance of a much stronger and independent women. Though the whole movie Ms Goodnight continues to surprise Rooster with her strength in defending herself. When they first encounter the thieves Rooster instructs her to hide and basically serve as a distraction. When Rooster life is in danger she impress’ him with her gun skills and saves his life. This movie shows the progression in how we view women in our society but it also shows a lingering belief of a different role for women in our society. This is implied when rooster starts to ask Ms Goodnight about her ability to cook and clean implying that he respects her strength but she also needs to fit the womanly role.
The Movie The Ballad of Little Jo made in 1993 made a giant leap away from the traditional westerns. This is very evident when Tinman moves in with Jo. There is a complete gender role reversal. Tinman cooks, cleans, bakes, does laundry and mends clothing. Jo tends to the cattle, builds the shelter and provides for them. This movie shows the progression of how we view the roles of women in our society. This movie also makes a powerful statement about how we view one another. When gender and race are taken out of sight it completely changes how we view people. This is evident when Tinman says to Jo, “You are a free white man now and someday soon you will even vote.”
Monday, March 1, 2010
The film, Red River, clearly depicts a power struggle between the two dominant males, Tom Dunson and Mathew Garth. As the two men clash throughout the movie, they both depict strong authoritative attitudes. However, the assumption that it is a battle between opposing alpha male cowboys must not be made without further examination.
As Matheson explains, the alpha male cowboy embodies the "modern notion that, in America, the time for heroes and heroism ended long ago." This new antihero does not abide by the classic deontological way of thinking. He is his own moral center, living life according to a the-end-justifies-the-means philosophy. In Red River, it is easy to identify such a concept in the character of Tom Dunson. He has a job to do, and will do whatever it takes to get it done. He pushes his men to exhaustion and kills anyone who causes him any trouble. "To be a man in the Western," explains Tompkins, "is to seem to grow out of the environment, which means to be hard, to be tough, to be unforgiving." The ruthless Dunson feels sympathy for no one, only a fanatical drive to fulfill his duty. Mathew Garth, on the other hand, consistently demonstrates mercy towards the other characters, putting the welfare of the people at a higher priority than the duty at hand. However admirable, Garth's compassion and consideration are attributes considered a liability by alpha male cowboy standards.
In addition to a certain level of moral ambiguity, the alpha male cowboy is free of any social ties. Dunson demonstrates this sense of complete independence at the very start of the film when he abandons the wagon train and the woman he loves in order to pursue his own ventures. The alpha male cowboy, Tompkins explains, avoids anything that "threatens to entrap the hero in the very things the genre most wishes to avoid: intimacy, mutual dependence, a network of social and emotional responsibilities." In contrast, throughout the film, Garth becomes increasingly intimate with a woman, Tess, and is insinuated to marry her at the very end. Therefore, although Red River may, at first, appear to portray two alpha male cowboys, upon closer examination; it is apparent that only Tom Dunson upholds the unique antihero qualifications.