Wanted: return of westerns

Erik Wyse

The sun rises on a desert landscape. This landscape is barren. A land of dirt and dust, a place where men are tested to their limits. Where the landscape makes the man. Home to the eternal struggle between coyote and roadrunner.
What kind of man would call such an unforgiving place his home? None other than the cowboy.
For some reason, however, Hollywood has forgotten this valiant figure. This year’s Oscar nominees for Best Picture are about a guy who puts a foot outside airports, revenge-seeking, baseball bat-yielding Jews, a bunch of blue people who are actually horses, some aliens who invade South Africa and a pregnant teenager. None of these subjects hold the emotional power of a well-chiseled cowboy.
A cursory flip through Turner Classic Movies’ programming schedule reveals that Hollywood 50 years ago only produced Westerns: they had it right. Maybe it’s all the anti-Bush sentiment or the remnants of the Kid Rock hangover. Whatever the reason may be, cowboys need to make a comeback.
Few other occupations in history have been so accurately romanticized as the cowboy. Why might this be? The cowboy stands as a symbol of freedom. His personality reflects the wild of the terrain he casually saunters through. Men want to be the cowboy. Women want to be with the cowboy, but fear his true nature, which is not unlike that of a wild stallion
The cowboy’s life is hard: It molds the man and isolates him until he is hard pressed to relate to society at large. Sure, he might enjoy the soft touch of a woman after a hard day’s work but he has no patience for any unruly demands. He doesn’t want to make small talk and that’s why he goes to the whorehouse – it’s less complicated that way. This also, by the way, helps garner his badass, rugged image.
The cowboy’s tune is different from the prospector’s or the governor’s. Cowboys don’t waste their time chasing gold or power, only freedom. Freedom to drink from the hose, freedom to shoot a gun into the air at will and the freedom to throw rotten tomatoes at actors, something that this author thinks should be reconsidered as a standard social habit.
Cowboys live outside rules, favoring the open air of the countryside to the stingy air of the motel. There ain’t no comfort in comfort for a cowboy. After all, how long do little bottles of shampoo last anyway? All things fade to dust – this much the cowboy philosopher knows.
As a student at Lawrence, I can never hope to learn as much as a cowboy. I certainly won’t leave here with the same resourcefulness as a cowboy, but then again, society is kryptonite to the cowboy. Lawrence doesn’t even offer any courses focused on studying cowboys.
I find it hard to believe there is no student interest in cowboys when every weekend I see the cowboy spirit present on the windswept prairies of the frat quad. Everywhere one looks, there is that glint in the eyes that says, “Life is best understood with a permanent five o’clock shadow and a sidekick named Tonto.” The streets are wild again. Boldt Way becomes inhabited for a short while with a group of misfits who challenge the constraints society tries to handcuff them with.
Unfortunately this state of affairs does not last, come Monday. And so I ask my fellow Lawrentians, “Why do we not continue with rabble-rousing through the week?” To quote from “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” “If you work to live, why do you kill yourself working?” Let us ride into the sunset, give no care to appearances and dirty ourselves with the environment we inhabit.
If we were to spend all of our lives traveling through barren deserts, I would hope there would be a sandwich made from leftover Salisbury steak, a bottle of Jack and a whorehouse waiting around the corner for all of us. Even grainy security cameras footage of this majestic scene would make for better cinema than a film involving Sandra Bullock with a bad Southern accent teaching a black teenager how to block on-rushing linebackers.