Date published:

August 23, 2021

Examining Western Film Ideology & Modern Culture

Ideologies largely represent the societal “norms” and generally accepted principles of politics, economics, and religion and belief systems of the “general public.” This system of ideals that has been accepted by the majority can be found in many films of the times. Such as Westerns which were prominent and popular between 1930 and the 1960s. However, in examining Western film ideology, we encounter some distinctly different “norms” as compared to modern culture. And some question whether the Western film has a place in the modern film industry?

filming an interview

Western Film Ideology

Understanding that an ideology is a generally accepted “norm” or class view on a particular topic or subject. It becomes quickly evident why Western films are no longer popular among the masses. Western film ideology is a somewhat mythical ideology for today’s society.

Consider the following Western film ideologies:

Violence 

Watch any Western and you’ll see that violence was the generally accepted means of overcoming a situation. If you disagree, you take ten steps, turn back, and shoot! However violence is anything but acceptable in today’s society.

Racism

Western films were largely about painting minorities, such as Native Americans and Mexicans, as the villains. Today the push is for equality and justice for all.

Stereotypes

Westerns really characterized Native Americans in a stereotypical manner as they did with Mexicans and other minority groups, too. These stereotypes are all but accepted in today’s culture.

Gender

Westerns typically had this focus on men and masculinity and females being anything but. There were very distinct roles for both men and women, and absolutely no gender equality of feminism which is largely uncharacteristic for modern culture.

Do Western Ideologies Fit Modern Culture

Western ideologies are largely devoid of the societal “norms” and accepted “world views” of modern culture. In fact, this is largely why nowadays people consider Western films “nostalgic” by some and considered an absolute disgrace by others.

Those who are in agreeance with modern cultural norms may find the ideologies represented in the typical Western film hard to swallow.

Particularly since many of the directions of today’s culture and respected values seem to be distinctly different from those of nearly 100 years or more ago when Westerns were popular or we based. 

In Summary

Many of the views that were accepted when Westerns were popular would make most people angry today. In fact, Western film ideology reflects a time when America was much different and shows how far America has come.

Although Western film ideology may not depict the values of modern society today, we can actually learn a lot about history and the advancements of our economic, political, and societal norms through the ideologies that were once the reality of the Wild West. 

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