Conservatives idolize a cowboy that never existed outside Westerns and comic books

Originally published at: Conservatives idolize a cowboy that never existed outside Westerns and comic books | Boing Boing


So like the Texas “cowboy” LEO that waited to enter a place where children were slaughtered because they were afraid. FYI I was related to a several LEO types and they would admit to being afraid but still went into bad situation.


There’s a lot of things conservatives idolize that dont exist


And he’s still doing it from beyond the grave. They recently added a weird and not-especially-impressive “3D hologram” (but actually a simple 2D video-projection Pepper’s ghost effect) of him greeting you as you enter the Reagan library. He’s supposedly putting his saddle away after a day of riding around his ranch.


All hat, no cattle.


You know who was a real person who actually embodied the cowboy ideal which so many seem to fetishize?

Bass Reeves, the Black US deputy marshal upon whom the Lone Ranger was (allegedly) based.


All of which stands contrary to the reality that frontier societies are as interdependent as they come. Calling someone a liar was not just some show of bravado, it was life or death because a liar couldn’t be counted on and quickly found himself alone and likely soon dead.


Yep. A lot of folks today don’t realize that many actual cowboys were black.


One of the most enduring myths is that cowboys were rugged individualists who didn’t depend on Big Government to get by.

Then and now, the land used for cattle grazing was only available for that purpose because the United States Army had killed or displaced the indigenous residents and handed over the use of that land to ranchers for free (or nearly free).

The Bundy family is just one recent example of how that sense of entitlement from cattle ranchers who grew fat on the Federal government’s teat still persists today.


"…knowing no master but duty.”

This hits a bit differently when describing the son of enslaved people.


I forget where I read it now, but someone once said that America is the only country whose national icon is not a military hero, an artist, or an intellectual, but an illiterate migrant agricultural worker.


I think we forget that those generations grew up on media full of Westerns where the cowboys were the hero. The shear number of long running TV shows is pretty staggering.

Today our hero’s are a little more varied, but I feel like the tops ones are either super heroes, or the Star Wars.

And Hispanic! Tons of Mexican Vaqueros! They invented the Rodeo!


And then there’s Nat Love:


Nat Love, African American cowboy who claimed to have won the name of Deadwood Dick in South Dakota, 1876, by virtue of his roping talent.

Love was born a slave on a plantation in Tennessee, which was perhaps the only exception to a life that otherwise resembled the plot of a Hollywood Western. At least one quarter of working cowboys during the height of the great cattle boom were black. Many had spent their childhood in slavery and headed west after the Civil War.



John Wayne has been the idol, model, and topic of conversation with cops here when they are unaware I overhear. They go over and over his movies not realizing the fiction.
There are persistent rumors about Marion Morrison’s proclivities. He felt he needed to wear a rug most of his adult life (not studio mandated). This was an insecure individual playing a seriously troubled part off-screen.


That was long before the days of Viagra, of course.


I’m glad this is one trope that seems to have mostly died in popular culture. I can count the number of western shows or movies I’ve seen on the fingers of one hand, and that’s being generous and including, like, The Twilight Zone, Back to the Future Part 3, and Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman. I’m sure they’re out there, but they’re not the cultural behemoth they used to be in the mid 20th century, even if they still loom large in the minds of some older citizens.

Unfortunately, the cop drama seems to have replaced them and is still going strong, fueling public police support with glorifying depictions of heroic, determined, self-sacrificing cops doing dangerous and interesting work, saving lives and rooting out corruption (if it’s addressed at all), rather than depicting cartels of self-serving bullies throwing away rape kits, passing out speeding tickets and murdering Black people while they grow wealthy off civil asset forfeiture.


Fascists always try to call for a return to a mythical golden age of heroes. Emphasis on the word “mythical”.


One thing that people forget about John Wayne is that he was a terrible actor with zero range. Almost as bad as Charlton Heston. They were both merely aspirational symbols of toxic masculinity projected onto a western landscape that never existed. I went through a period of digesting all of the “classics” of American cinema and those two idiots always stuck out like a sore thumb, usually overshadowing great performances by their costars.


Stagecoach Mary, Rufus Buck, Cherokee Bill, there are many more.

In fact, the recent film the Harder They Fall was a fictional take on such Black cowboys and outlaws…


A certain blobfish senator belongs on this list.