Pre-scientific Common (Non)-sense (Everyday Life Guesses, Prejudices and Premature Judgements About Everything Is What Our times Learns From Mass Culture)

The Gunfighter, 1916
“The Gunfighter”, 1916

If you live in today’s world you cannot avoid American Westerns – they will not leave you alone with their dry plains, sweaty faces of its protagonists, noise of the shooting, aristocratic plebeians with the gaze of supermen and intonations of matter-of-factly superiority, with blonde prostitutes mistreated by rude brutes and greedy villains and the upliftingly respected by the main characters personifying universal goodness. As if dancing steps with shotgun to get closer to the opponent who steps towards us made completely identified with incredible hero who transformed the viewers into his mute admirers. The duel of manneristic courage, the pantomime towards death or life, gentler than moving of soldiers’ in battlefield, but somehow much more lethal. Westerns teach us how to dance toward death and how to transform death into the focus of survival. In this sense Western is like a casino, only for much more courageous ones who will not exchange the responsibility of killing or dying for money.

Westerns – gun-crotch, gun-phallus in contrast with the liberal phallus-guitar of pop-music. Bravado smile – the condescending farewell to the world, a shining salute to death (but who is seducing whom – death or the hero?). And this permanent competition – who is a more tremendous guy. Silently beaming or pulsating superiority before death or life, and this ridiculous cartoon action pantomime of drawing guns – who is quicker/tougher, who will kill whom, who will be able to kill and not get killed. But Westerns are not about war. It is much more – about everyday living with war under your shirt, with war on your neck, a war which you are taming like a crying baby.

For Westerns and us grown on it, permanent fight/war is about the psychology of war as a way of living. It is war internalized and transformed into fun. Western as a movie-genre is, as if, a wrapped in a box present to children dreaming to become adults without stopping to be kids, and to adults who despite their buff-tough look didn’t become adults. The characters living in Westerns are, as if, simultaneously, conquerors and victims, who are above the both, life and death.

Who is not afraid to be killed – always kills quicker and better (according to the aesthetic canon Western helped to elaborate). Western as a cinematic genre is inspired creator of contradictory psychological combinations like “be ready to get killed and you will be alive”, or “moral uprightness and disinterestedness helps to effectively fight for one’s advantage and prosperity”, or “readiness for gun violence is the sign of ultimate freedom we all have to fight for” (the last slogan is, as if, produced by today’s NRA). Our culture learned not to be afraid of semantic contradictions, and Westerns are part of this “evolution”. The kindness is motivation of the moralistically righteous killer. Who learned this from whom – the Soviet communists from the American conservatives or the Westerns from the communists? Another “paradoxical” similarity between the Soviet communists and Western conservatives is the proclivity to scapegoat the enemies from human beings into monsters/villains. Little tricks like this help people to live with war as if it was peace, when not only whiskey easily combined with guns and inspired by bullets, but dinners, romance, agriculture, cattle, sexuality and private business.

The neutralization of contradiction by dissolving it into innocence of living leads to the fact that the inhabitants of the Westerns don’t know how to existentially-analytically talk to one another. They are not interested in each other’s souls – they are too practically oriented on revenge, justice and money. They bite-test people and the world. They are one with their horse-riding gears – they cannot be separated from their socio-morphic tasks, concerns and needs. Look at their rigid postures, as if they are permanently trying to out-pose each other. The physical proximity of the dancing (from vitality) horses to their riders is the strongest stylistic tool Western possesses to impress the public, to make kids to try to imitate heroes. We can recognize that Yul Brynner being hit only by the pantomimic reaction of his horse. But take away from the personages their ability to kill one another, and boredom of their characters, banality and standardization of their emotional life becomes evident. New generations are helpless unconscious imitators of Westerns’ manner of talking, intonating, grimacing and perceiving reality.

Our generals’ and our bill-millionaires’ discourses are childishly narcissistic in the very tradition of Westerns – they don’t know how to have disinterested polemic with themselves and each other. They are like acting monuments – they are satisfied with inquiries about facts relevant to the actual issues, with intuitive decision-making, authoritarian commands, demands and actions. Today’s generals represent their positions as objective truth (as god’s knowledge) – they don’t differentiate between subjective and objective, internal and external reality, between policies and ideology. A good example today is “American exceptionalism”. In Nazi Germany the code words were “Arian superiority”. And Soviet communists practiced their exceptionalism with “Superiority of Communist idea in the old world in need for natural leadership of (try to guess) Soviet Communist Party”. Bill-millionaires’ (bill-mills) “discourse” is also based on a semantically messy motto – “We need and deserve more money/profit, and the whole world has to accept our leadership of humanity and the condition of permanent austerity for the majority as a result”. Soviet communists thought in similar manner, before they figured out that Western type of formal democracy can protect them from the masses better than outworn Soviet “socialism” of the 70s-80s.

Like discourses of the characters in Westerns, todays generals and the bill-mills’ discourses belong as if, to the lobotomized – they don’t include negotiations and discussions with the dissimilar others. Gen-bill-mills are absolutely “me-we-centered”, and the world is addressed only to satisfy their expectations, needs, desires and dreams. Like in Westerns guns transform into bullets exactly in the moment when everything is opened up to negotiations and discussions, hope is closed by militant “solution”. The absence of realistic discussions is characteristic of mass culture and it has become a part of our everyday life as an inept public discourse poisoned by commercial advertising and political propaganda.

Mass-cultural discourse of entertainment industry is “autistic” – nobody is interested in dissimilar people and studying and developing vocabulary to understand them, although this fact is often masked in media by the entertaining small arms wit which exaggerates clichés as fast food is overfilled with sugar, sodium, caffeine and fat for the sake of successful sales.

The hero of the Western is almost as Lord Shiva
The hero of the Western is almost as Lord Shiva

Westerns as a genre includes a wide range of socio-psychological and political experiences – starting from US’s aggressive territorial expansion towards the West, represented with propagandist ease as being attacked by aboriginal “terrorists”, and ending with vigilante “justice” against the “villains” (scapegoated personifications of abstract evil, who were created in order to distract attention of the mass people from the systemic ills of the established and promoted – standard ways of life).