Posted on October 19, 2018
by Steve Janowick
I just finished watching Once Upon a Time in the West. And now I feel compelled to spew my thoughts on the Western genre as it relates to the current state of the young American man in 2018. First, I must give some well-deserved props. It had been a few years since I had seen this wonderful, bad-ass flick, and I’m now reminded why it ranks in my top 10 of all time. Not only is it the greatest Western ever made, it’s one of the greatest movies PERIOD. I highly recommend Sergio Leone’s masterpiece.
Now, before all you marshmallow types get your panties in a bunch, I fully acknowledge all the transgressions and wrongdoings of that time period and don’t condone any of them in any way. This isn’t one of those rants about why our past was so much better than our present. Well, actually, it is a little. But only the things that really were better-like us men! And the American Western is a great representation to help us juxtapose the “then” and the “now” and maybe rein-still some of the classic old west virtues in our kids that seem to be totally disappearing.
Visit a major college campus today and just randomly strike up a conversation with any male student and ask him about what virtues are the most important to him. I’ll bet you a dollar to a donut that most of those he holds in high regard will be a 180 from those of the old-west pioneer. I’m betting that courage, tenacity, honor, respect, excellence and integrity won’t be the student’s first picks. Why? Because those virtues are synonymous with rugged individualism, and right now in 2018, there’s maybe not another more vilified and unpopular notion within certain mainstream circles-academia being one of them.
I, personally, don’t know any red-blooded, American father who wouldn’t want his sons to possess such character traits. I’m certainly not saying that kids in college today aren’t virtuous. Many are. And many are awesome too! However, any reasonable honest person would have to admit that the set of values being taught to them is in direct contrast with those that were around in 1880 Arizona.
I believe that the six virtues I’ve listed are the building blocks of greatness in a man. The foundation on which the rest of him is built. And it’s in the American Western that they are on full display to be celebrated. If a man didn’t kill it-he didn’t eat. If he didn’t build it-he’d be without shelter. If he didn’t defend it-he’d be overthrown. And of course, his partner was even tougher than him, while still being feminine (but that’s for another blog). He was God fearing and a family loving. He was the epitome of the simple man carving out an existence that fed his desire for the most important thing of all-his freedom!
So, go online and find a list of great Westerns (there are many), pick a couple and make a movie night with your sons. I guarantee they’ll thank you for it one day. And worse case scenario? They reject it and clutch tightly to their snowflake tendencies. But at least they’ll know how to shoot a pistol and properly slug down a shot of whiskey.
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