Tuesday, July 17, 2007

1.The "Western"

The series Deadwood is called a "western," and when we hear the word western we automatically think, "Cowboy." But in fact Deadwood is not about cowboys, it is about miners. In the west cowboys and miners seldom mingled. Cowboys worked the flat plains areas of Texas, Kansas, and Wyoming while miners plied their trade in the foothills of the Sierra in California, the slopes of the Rockies in Colorado and the rivers and streams of the Black Hills in Dakota Territory.

As a rule cowboys felt superior to these "working men" of their epoch. Cowboys felt themselves more noble, handsome and daring than most men, particularly the lowly river-slogging, dirt picking, burro riding miner. Astride his trusty steed the cowboy spent his working day atop a horse and felt it below him to be on foot, whereas the miner spent his working day slogging through the muck and mud scavenging for bits of metal flake.

Even Wild Bill Hickok was not a cowboy in the true sense of the word; he was a professional gambler, which was a legitimate profession in the eighteen hundreds. As a matter of fact, Wild Bill had little use for cowboys. In 1871 he was hired to be the town Marshal by the good people of Abilene, Kansas to control the 5,000 cowboys that descended on their town during the great trail drives. He grew to dislike cowboys and what he considered their huffy, arrogant ways. And there was little respect for Wild Bill from the cowboys point of view either; as a gambler and Marshal, Wild Bill spent most of his working day butt down in a chair.

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