Not Your Parents’ Western (well, kind of actually)

Matt Damon with sideburns and a moustache? That's a cross-generational good time I'd go for.

I’m all for cross-generational good times, but if you plan on seeing True Grit and you’re under the age of 45, aim to see it with people your own age. Nothing makes a movie about a precocious child more annoying than an audience full of parents who are loving it because they imagine that the children they’re raising are also clever and adorable.

Downside to living in the Beaches: family types. And I’ve seen their kids out and about, by the way. “Clever” is not a word I would use.

Grumpily eating a popcorn dinner and watching a Western with my friendly neighbourhood property flippers did give me some food for thought, though. As I understand it, both as a setting and a genre, the Wild West depends upon a geographic dichotomy of East vs West. The American West is wild, free, and uncivilized, whereas the East (comparable to the unwelcoming homestead in war films) is rigid, oppressive, and often decidedly feminine. The lone ranger archetype isn’t a family man, he isn’t settled, and he doesn’t answer to any law but his own.

Despite my movie-going grumpiness, I was pretty amused to compare this dichotomy to a similar geography in Toronto. Cool, hip shit is in the west end, where you’re free to be as wacky and unlawful as you can be (until you get caught). Queen West is a hip place to have fun. Queen East, in contrast, is a hip place to have babies. And when you’ve given up on hip and bought into the idea of making real money…you can move to the Beaches to buy property and raise dogs and listen to soft rock disguised as a jazz festival!

In the narratives we craft for our lives, if you’re a young person in Toronto, and you want to live like a young person, is your genre necessarily the Western? Hipsters and Westerns both glorify the anti-hero…is there more to this theory than just an affinity for plaid?

For the answer to this and other of life’s important questions, I turn as always to the music of Will Smith and everyone’s favourite dichotomy: wise-cracking young black man paired with wise but eccentric older white man (a common trope among Mr. Smith’s popular action-adventure films of the 90s). Also, I turn to Sisqò, because the man who penned The Thong Song could never be wrong.

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3 Responses to Not Your Parents’ Western (well, kind of actually)

  1. Chef Shaff says:

    I’d like to read more after you’ve seen a couple of spaghetti westerns – start with, perhaps, “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” (how’s that for a title; reminds me of another trio I know 🙂

  2. Nikki says:

    Stereotyping his generation just like an ol’ post-45-year-old dad: championing spaghetti Westerns, making cheeky jokes about his kids.
    (I’m either Good or Bad, right? …right?)

  3. meag87 says:

    I’ve seen The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I rode my bike to work today while listening to the soundtrack. It was amazing. I pretended every streetcar I passed was a stagecoach full of dead guys.

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