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Friday, 19 October 2018


Keira Knightley says she has banned her three-year-old daughter from watching Disney films whose portrayal of women she disagrees with.

(Fair enough. But a few wider thoughts.)

So went a "news" headline recently and it got me thinking about all the films and television I watched, nay absorbed, as a child. Did what I watched influence my route to adulthood? Did I succumb to personality or character flaws because of what I was drinking in through my eyeballs? I don't know for sure but here's my thinking. By the way, this is me about me. There may well be academic studies out there linking screen images to major crimes and societal issues, et al, but that's for others to analyse. 

As a child of four, five, six and beyond, I was a sponge soaking up westerns. I am sure I have watched thousands. Several decades on, I can put my hand on my heart and say that I have never had the urge to be a gunslinger, bank robber, cattle rustler, bar brawler or Comanchero. Hell, I have never had any enthusiasm to ride a horse. I loved the action, the stories, the humour. I did not have the intellectual capacity as a youngster to identify "real world" problems. Yes, the majority of my western stars were men but, so what? In a lot of westerns, women were mothers, ranch wives, saloon keepers or good time gals. Men, generally, were the tough guys, providing and protecting. Maybe, that's the way it was way back in the real West.

In the movies, Barbara Stanwyck, Jane Russell and, especially, Maureen O'Hara were not to be messed with. There are others, of course, but modern day issues are not on my mind when I'm watching.

Even now, in this strange, complaining world, I don't watch westerns with a spreadsheet in front of me to see if it ticks all the boxes to satisfy all those who might be offended genuinely or who may be offended because they like stirring controversy for the hell of it. I watch westerns because I enjoy the genre, even the ropey ones. It's my thing. And I can't see anything negative in my mature years that I can attribute to westerns. 

And away from westerns, I thrilled at watching Tom & Jerry cartoons but I have never chased anyone around the house with the intention of hitting them in the face with a skillet!

Today there are more campaign bandwagons than there were wagons on Wagon Train and I am very selective about which ones I will climb aboard. 

Adios, pardners!

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