Cowboys, Masculinity, and the American Condition

2159 Words9 Pages
John Wayne, James Stewart, Clint Eastwood and Garth Brooks are all names we recognize as belonging to famous cowboy figures. The Cowboy image has become integrated into almost every aspect of American entertainment, beginning in the late 19th century with Wild West shows and Western dime novels and continuing through the 20th century with radio, television and movies. The Cowboy image is one that people around the globe see in movies and read about in books, “the last romantic figure”(Wister 8) in “a vanished world.”(7) Cowboys have become so integrated into American lives that children play “Cowboys and Indians” games without really even knowing about the true history of Cowboys or of Indians. Yet it isn’t just entertainment that we derive from the Cowboy image. We also find an ideal – a heroic personage – that we can follow without thought and with near total faith. It is because of our faithfulness to our Cowboy hero that the adoption of the Cowboy image is common in the American presidency, first by Lyndon B. Johnson (36th president) then by Ronal Reagan (40th) and most recently by the 43rd and current president, George W. Bush. The Cowboy image is used in the presidency to create an air of masculinity, bravery and commonality which encourage the American people to place their faith in the actions and opinions of the president. Yet the unshakable faith that we place in masculinity and in the Cowboy image will eventually cause the destruction of both. The American people tend to follow those leaders who exhibit an abstract concept called masculinity. Masculinity is a set of ideologies that people, primarily men, believe to be aspects of the perfect person. In the American ideal, the markings of masculinity include strength, confidence, honor, courage, and good manners. The ideal masculine figure exemplifies all of the marks of masculinity to the perfect

More about Cowboys, Masculinity, and the American Condition

Open Document