I made a video about cowboys and how they're bad


#1

Its only a few minutes long, but here it is. Its something I put a bit of time into and my thoughts on the nature of cowboys…except via speaking this time.

Feel free to tell me what you think


#2

I wanna first off say I’m white! so snap at me if I’m being foolish. there’s also some minor nitpicks and some production critiques that i just won’t get into in this comment

So I have seen friends and acquaintances kind of have a jovial affection for the cowboy aesthetic and it’s something that’s always made me uncomfortable. And by “cowboy aesthetic”… I mean literally they just like the hats and boots. While there have been some more critical Western films and media in recent years I know of, there is always an undercurrent of expansionism, and that’s if you’re even watching a movie without the blatant racism. It’s generally uncritical of the deeply unsettling history of westward expansion and I… really ought to call that shit out more.

The notion of “someone wearing a cowboy hat, boots, big belt buckle, that ensemble, should be treated the same way as someone walking around with a swastika on”… really bothers me? For reason one: the swastika was co-opted by the Nazis and is a symbol that has been used and continues to be used globally. The swastika does not carry any inherent hatefulness. I actually remember a story where an immigrant man in my neighborhood had a swastika flag up on yom kippur and was shocked when he was told what that would be read as. The reason the swastika is offensive is because of its historical usage as a symbol of white supremacy, which leads me to my second qualm with that notion: while it is genuinely unlikely that a person wearing a swastika (more specifically the Nazi swastika) would be unaware of the genocide associated with it, I don’t believe the same could be said for someone engaging with the cowboy aesthetic. While the Nazi swastika is a symbol used intentionally to convey white supremacy, I don’t think the same could be said for a ten-gallon hat and boots with spurs. The people I know who are enamored with the cowboy aesthetic are also extremely Left leaning people, and have often expressed anti-colonialist sentiments. They’ve just failed to critically address the undertones of that aesthetic. To clarify, I’m not saying people shouldn’t be held accountable for ignorance of the undertones in Western media. They should. I’m saying I don’t think there is always mens rea when someone is wearing a cowboy hat and a bolo tie.

All said, it’s really frustrating to see a total lack of advancement in the perception of Westerns. I also still struggle to shake a level of awe, though; I don’t even like Westerns much, but I also get wrapped up in Morricone scores and think revolvers look cool. Especially since Red Dead Redemption 2 came out, it’s unsettling to see how little people still today don’t key into the colonialism underlying this media.


#3

You do know that the german concentration camps were based on what the US did to natives and other minorities, right?

You don’t think of it as intending hate because it has been so THOROUGHLY white washed of its history that its meant to appear normal. If the germans had won, some time later the swastika and SS uniform would have been a relatively normal thing, something you wear for fun or casually to the point that eventually you wouldn’t think about what it represented, right? Not really anyway. The ugly parts would be scrubbed from history by a hundred years later, and it’d be considered just a ‘heritage’ thing that helped germany expand and become ‘great’

The cowboy is the representative of a winning side that committed genocide or attempted to, and got to write the history itself.

Just because you don’t perceive to have an inherent representation of genocide and hate, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have that meaning, and even if they don’t intend to when they wear it, you are in the costume of racists, or hate, and of genocide. So no, I disagree on that front too, I believe people who wear it deserve to be punched all the same, and that the outfit should be publicly shamed, and hated just as much.

Of course it never will, because no one will think about it, because its become heritage.


#4

So, some criticism on the production side!

This is a really minor nitpick but the comment about Birth of a Nation being in the National Archive isn’t particularly meaningful due to the purpose of the archive itself is to collect as much as it can as I understand it, though thats a more complicated date within the library studies community :~P

Idk if you’re looking for this kind of advice but It’s in the Workshop so here goes anyway: Your voice is also mixed just a tad low, at least for me, so you might wanna turn it up a tad? Though maybe something was up on your recording this time, because a random other video of yours a clicked seemed to sound fine. I also think these kinds of videos tend to benefit from a little bit of editing; throwing in some public domain footage of the subject matter or pictures spliced in can help keep viewer’s attention, even if they’re really supposed to be focused on the words you’re saying. The intro is really fun and well animated btw!


#5

I disagree on that, because it was considered ‘culturally relevant’ enough to keep, and preserve. As something to be a part of america’s cinematic history. I consider it significant, but then again, I consider every little thing the US government does that helps show and endorse racist ideas and media to be important. We don’t live in a world in which you can feel any other way as far as I’m concerned.

I do appreciate the comment on that, although I have 0 skill in editing and honestly don’t have much interest in doing so, but I will at least before I start recording check my audio levels next time to see if that helps.

As for the comment on footage, I want my videos to be short and digestible, something you can put on and listen to, quickly, not something you need to be looking at the entire time, it was a deliberate choice to keep them short and also keep them visually static.


#6

You’re right on most all of your points there I just think I have a different takeaway. anyway I am probably going to start calling my friends out on their shit more, they should know better

Yeah again, whether or not we should archive deeply prejudiced and harmful media is a debated topic and I’m not going to act like I have a good answer to it. I dealt with it myself in some work at a non-profit. All I know is we should probably stop showing Birth of a Nation in film schools. Like, yea DW Griffith was influential but do you NEED to show a propaganda film about the KKK? hey?? um hey???

I think what you might find, though, is that your videos might be more digestible with something going on visually. I can’t speak for everyone, but visual stimulation can make a video seem shorter and more engaging. Also, if you’re on the mobile app, you can’t close the video or the app and still listen to it, so it’s nice to have at least something going on. Again, I’m not talking like a video essay, and you can still make the video in a way that doesn’t require full visual attention. It doesn’t have to be much, as much as some related footage or pictures every 30 seconds can be enough.
Though obviously if it’s not something you want to put your time into, don’t bother. Just a suggestion that might be worth playing around with! :slight_smile: