We Need to Talk About Western Movies & GenX/Boomer Men

this one I did edit some

John Wayne, was a draft dodger; and that’s ok. Not all men are built for war, some are only built for acting.

And I’m not saying this as an insult to people who like his movies, or people who even remotely identify with the deceased actor John Wayne. His filmography spans a great deal, as did many actors who did westerns as he did. But he did dodge the draft for the Vietnam War; when his country asked him to set aside most things to serve, he said No.

But of course, many people did; the Vietnam War wasn’t a war that was popular. In fact, in my opinion, it was an unjust war altogether; but the fact remains that when the USA asked men like John Wayne to serve, many of them said NO.

This is, of course, a stark contrast to the characters John Wayne played on film; these stoic staunch men who would do anything to protect and serve the ones they loved. It’s a pretty easy trope to do; you set it at a romanticized time in America’s history, you set some rigid gender roles, and then you fill in the blanks. Most writers can probably make a script for western with little to no training, right now.

A lot of what makes up the generation of men that call themselves “boomers” or “GenXers”, is really a generation of people who grew up on television. And a lot of what was television then was westerns. If you have to define generations by the screens they watch, then these two closely resemble each other in this particular regard. Of course, GenX has the added Saturday morning cartoons to their catalog. *This is of course referring primarily to the USA, and possibly Canada*

Whereas the generations that fought in WW2, Korea, and conflicts before that relied on radio and movie theaters, boomers and gen-Xers didn’t have to do that. They enjoyed the things their parents did, and they got to enjoy new burgeoning technologies. This is a pattern you’ll see with later generations as well; genX parents having both millennial and zoomer children, boomers having genX & millennial children. All wanting their children to relive the youth they did (or didn’t) have. But that’s not how this works, and technology is evolving too rapidly for these generations.

Hell, it’s evolving too rapidly for millennials & some zoomers

If there’s anything that feeds into nostalgia more, it’s Western movies; it’s comfort TV/movies for a lot of men. It’s a happy place you can envision; there’s always an ending they like, and there’s always a man doing man things. But that’s not how the world was or is; it’s messy, it’s more anime than it is sitcoms. It’s not John Wayne subduing (and sometimes working) with Indigenous populations, it’s more Vegeta realizing he lost his edge and decided to let a wizard infect his mind so he could gain more power.

An interesting video pointed out how so many people think that SpiderMan: The Animated Series was censored more than other shows at the time; If anything it was rawer. A lot of people in my generation, and the one that precedes it bemoan “censorship” today, or they’ll cry about how much violence there is in movies & shows thus corrupting today’s youth. But yet still won’t take the time, to sit down and ask their children what exactly they’re playing or they’re watching.

Some notable examples of cartoons that were censored more than SpiderMan: TAS; they took away Michealangelo’s nunchakus, all the other Marvel shows they had at the time, the Power Rangers (just all of it), anything that DIC entertainment touched (don’t watch their version of Sailor Moon if you care about originality, at all). Ren and Stimpy was and is censored more than SpiderMan: TAS. SpiderMan: TAS was on par with the exact amount of censorship that people (on the left and right) wanted; especially parents, y’all didn’t like the first TMNT movie because it had weapons in it. Like I can’t make this up at all lol.

The reality is this: Westerns were a huge staple of American culture once upon a time ago, so were Saturday morning cartoons, and so was the censorship that came along with all those things. The United States of America is a bubble, and it’s starting to show signs that it’ll burst pretty soon; just take a look at the amount of gun violence we have in our borders.

To even keep the second amendment in a state that most conservative gun owners want; conservative lawyers and lawmakers had to stretch it by so much that even most Constitutional professors/lawyers aren’t telling you the full story on that one. (there’s a case I just don’t feel like looking it up right now).

The image that John Wayne gave everyone, was a gift that ran its course a long LONG time ago. We’re in a state where our children are so used to hearing about death/war/violence that censoring it is already too late; it’s too late conservatives, and I really am sorry about that.

Of course, the political philosophy of liberalism is quickly being co-opted by more conservative factions of our society; that again, isn’t a bad thing in itself. You start to have people do their own thought experiments and come up with political abominations such as “anarcho-capitalism”. Or try to revert back to a form of liberalism and slap a new label on it called “libertarianism”. These types of philosophies, won’t last in their current form; but they are interesting to look at.

Another interesting note is how both of those philosophies I just mentioned tend to be dominated by cisgender heterosexual men. You don’t even have to go far to prove my point on it, you literally can just go to any social media site and see for yourself.

An interesting thing to note on censorship and political parties; it was during the 1930s and the rise of communism in the USA that censorship was beginning to be a formidable force in society.

If your first thought is to want to drown, or censor, a point of view; you need to rethink your personal politics. Because trying to censor people is how progressive ideas usually flourish, you can only do it for so long; the same thing can be said about walls and borders.

A lot of our male population is living in the past; and while it’s ok to learn from the past, once you live in it for too long…it’s already too late, other history has already been made. The embodiment of these men living in the past is seen profoundly in the Boomer Generation & the GenX Generation.

And that’s not ok.

I understand the point of the second amendment, in case you forgot that I’m in law school; and I understand the point of the Constitution of the United States of America. But if you’re not careful, and I’m talking to all men (cisgender and transgender), you will be lapped by others in society. And I know many of you are very competitive people (toxic or non-toxic). And I’m here to tell you, it’s probably too late.

If you’re a man and you have kids, just play video games with your kids; you’ll be teaching a lot of what you know naturally that way. If you’re a woman and you have kids, just play video games with your kids; you’ll be teaching a lot of what you know naturally that way. If you’re a parent and you have kids, your kids will learn a lot about the world through you, whether you know it or not. And they’ll learn when you’re not around, and they’ll learn when they’re not in school. A child learns by just being who they are and interacting with the society they are born into, that’s just life.

If you’ve read this far and you’re a cisgender heterosexual man, I honestly do commend you. I just shit on a figurehead of masculinity, told you how you’re about to be lapped by other types of people in society; and you’re still here reading this article.

If you’re a cisgender heterosexual man, I’m telling you now…the way you think and interact with society is already archaic. It just is, face that fact now. If you’re literally anyone else, my bad for letting the secret out.

Unlisted

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E. I. D. Esqueda

E. I. D. Esqueda

Writer/poet for hire and fighting game enthusiast. I’m a neurodivergent queer who is also a military veteran. I write about politics & culture sometimes.