Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lost women in Cowboys and Aliens

With the exception of the good alien, who came to assist humanity in ridding itself of the bad aliens, women don’t play a large role in Cowboys & Aliens except as victims of abduction, or by their absence.
The most obvious of these is Jake, who fell in love with the prostitute, Alice, and lost her when he brought home the blood money, the bad aliens abducting her, the gold and Jake himself, for evil, inhuman experiments that eventually kills her and leaves Jake wounded and at lost for a memory of who he is and where he’s been.
Sadly for Jake, he loses the female alien, too, forcing him to wander the world at the end alone.
The minister seems without a significant other and so gets stuck with Jake and the doctor to say words of comfort over his grave.
Clearly, there is no woman in the military man’s – Dollarhide – life, otherwise, she might have pinned back the ears of his gun toting spoiled brat of a son, he is forced to leave in the care of male hired hands, who do a piss poor job of keeping him under control and out of trouble.
The sheriff takes care of his grandson because his daughter died and was buried near the town, while the father is off somewhere promising to return at some point.
Even the doctor, who starts out with a good wife, loses her along the way and has to go and retrieve her.
The cowboy world was largely a male dominated world, but you would think that with all of those people being lassoed by alien craft and dragged away, some women would want to join the posse to get one back.
But there is clearly something being said here, about men and their children, about fatherhood and husbandhood, which having a woman around would somehow negate.
Even the outlaws seem more than a little perturbed by the fact that Jake gave them up in order to take up with a whore – a separate issue from the fact that he made off with the gold to do it.
This film is about becoming a man and what it takes, as clearly defined by Dollarhide’s relationship to the sheriff’s grandson.
Mothers seem in short supply, even the Indian boy Dollarhide more or less adopted, but is somewhat shamed of.
Dollarhide himself went with his father before the war to become a man.
What it takes depends on the person. Jake is supposedly a man, and yet has a lot to learn about what it means to find and keep love.
The doctor has similar issues, somewhat whinny when it comes to his dream, and not very appreciative of his wife’s sacrifices.
Dollarhide – who has his share of wisdom – fails to appreciate what he has before him, not in cattle or power, but in human wealth. While he is clearly blind to the virtues of his adopted Indian son, he is even more out of touch with his real son. Dollarhide’s relationship to the sheriff’s grandson provides him with a strong tie to his own passed, and what it took for him to become a man at that age. Somewhere in this mix, in the telling of stories to the younger boy and in his losing his Indian son and saving of his real son, Dollarhide rediscovers a fundamental truth about his own life.

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