Gender and Class as Portrayed by the 1870s Film Industry

Topics: Sociology, Gender role, Gender Pages: 4 (1321 words) Published: January 21, 2014
Gender and Class in the 1870s as Portrayed by the Film Industry

The film industry can create an image for genders, race, class, sexuality, nationalities, and even eras through the roles and story lines of characters in a film. More recently, the film industry has begun to combine two different eras of films and even combine two different genres of film. In the film Cowboys and Aliens, the writers and directors are able to depict the different roles of genders and classes that existed in the West back in the 1870s, as well as incorporating modern day ideologies into the Western film. This is done using a diverse group of individuals coming from a vast range of classes, all meeting up and recognizing that they are all different, but need to complete one common task.

First to discuss in this film is the different roles of genders that exist in this film. The common conception for the Western life and Western film is for it to be dominated by the male figure; as Lynn Weber puts it, “Whites, men, and heterosexuals are deemed superior” (Weber). In the film Cowboys and Aliens, men were more than the dominant gender in the film as there was really only one female, Ella Swenson, that made up the main cast for all of the film. However, Ella played a very important role in the film and was extremely beneficial to cause that all the men of Absolution were going for. According to Lynn Weber, it has been shown historically that things such as gender “hierarchies are never static and fixed, but constantly undergo change as part of new economic, political, and ideological processes” (Weber). Weber’s quote applies to this film because at the beginning of the film the men of the town, even Jake, thought of her as useless and burdensome to their efforts to capture the people taken from the town; Sheriff Taggart made this clear at the beginning of their voyage to find the lost people from Absolution when Ella asked to join and the Taggart replied with “Got a kid, and...

Cited: "The Making of the West." Belton, John. American Cinema American Culture. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2009.
Marx, Karl. "The Destructive Power of Money." Cashin, Kathryn Karrh. Multi-Cultural Film: An Anthology. Boston: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2012. 237-240.
Marx, Karl. "The Pervesion of Human Needs." Cashin, Kathryn Karrh. Multi-Cultural Film: An Anthology. Boston: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2012. 241-246.
Weber, Lynn. "A Conceptual Framework for Understanding Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality." Cashin, Kathryn Karrh. Multi-Cultural Film: An Anthology. Boston: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2012. 13-28.
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