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El mito del oeste salvaje (En Inglés)

Aunque muchos de nosotros somos fanáticos de las películas de Western con sus imágenes de vaqueros, peleas en bares, duelos y aventuras, resulta que en realidad los índices de violencia en el oeste americano fueron muy reducidos frente a los actuales, en parte porque la (casi general) tenencia de armas impedía que los ciudadanos se encuentren indefensos frente a bandoleros y forajidos.

Publicado: Miércoles, 14/3/2007 - 12:51  | 15471 visitas.

En realidad el viejo oeste americano fue más pacífico que muchas ciudades actuales
En realidad el viejo oeste americano fue más pacífico que muchas ciudades actuales
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The American West: A Heritage of Peace

By Ryan McMaken

A century ago, the American West, and the process of homesteading and Americanization that took place in the lands West of the Mississippi River was seen as a triumph of American drive, ingenuity, and courage; a sheer act of will that required hard work, perseverance, and above all, a spirit of independence and individualism.

In the decades following the closing of the Frontier (as pronounced by Frederick Turner in 1890), this perception of the West changed dramatically. The old view of a divinely inspired spread of Americanism changed to a more ambivalent view by mid-century, and finally, to an openly hostile view today that Western society was (and is) violent, murderous, and chaotic. We are now told that the West, after the coming of the white man, was a land of sadistic Indian murderers, psychopathic outlaws, and misfits who had abandoned the more peaceful life back in the good ol" civilized U.S. of A.

Whether promoting or condemning the West, though, novelists, filmmakers, and even historians never shied away from giving us many images of murdering Indians, or roaming outlaws, or crazy misfits, but what in an earlier era would have been abnormal behavior in films and images of the West, became standard behavior for denizens of the West in later times.

Much of this revolves around the treatment of Native Americans (and other currently popular minority groups) in film, and with the coming of films like Little Big Man (1970) and Dances with Wolves (1990). Americans have been treated to images of a bucolic, ideal world disrupted by barbaric Americans who stripped the land and all of its people of everything that was good and decent, destroying not only the Native peoples, but also themselves in the process.

There is certainly no doubt that Native American tribes suffered greatly at the hands of government and quasi-government operations aimed at "civilizing" the West, but the unrelenting focus in recent years of these murderous exploits illustrates for us a larger agenda surrounding how we acquire modern perceptions of the American West. This agenda is one of convincing Americans that the American West was inherently violent, unusually unjust, and generally unfit for civilized human habitation. And this indictment now extends not merely to bands of conquering soldiers, but to the common settlers, fathers, husbands, and pretty much everybody else.

Consider the 1992 film Unforgiven. Sometimes called the "unwestern," this film portrays the West as a place of capricious violence and chaos where law and order is regularly undone by crooked sheriffs, vengeful bounty hunters, and abusive cowpokes.

In recent years, this image of the West as the home of unusually sadistic and frequent violence has been an ever more popular topic of research on the West, with typical additions being Glenda Riley"s A Place to Grow: Women in the American West and Clare V. McKanna"s Homicide, Race, And Justice in the American West, 1880–1920. Both of these works build on the violent image of the West already provided in Hollywood movies while providing a realistic revisionist picture of nonheroic violence perpetuated by drunks and the "gun culture."

The Myth of the Brutal Frontier


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