In a world full of entertainment ‘fast-food’ the Western continues to prove itself a satisfying literary and visual ‘meal’.
An Enduring Genre
If genres were runners the western would be the endurance runner of genres. While other genres come and go in short sprints the western is out there pacing itself, armed with the knowledge that slow and steady wins the race.
What accounts for the western’s ability to span generations and enjoy mass appeal time and time again? Put aside all the atrocities and the politics of that era and it comes down to the fact that people can relate to the human spirit and the drive of an individual to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges in order to have the opportunity to forge a better life, if not for them than for their heirs. The trick is nowadays to get someone to sit still long enough to see the story unfold.
Marketing is one of the most powerful forces on the planet, some would argue more powerful than religion and the pursuit of a relationship or understanding of a higher power. Many are so susceptible to its influence if they saw someone in an add eating a dog turd wrapped in a tortilla with the look of ecstasy on their face they would feel compelled as if under a spell to eat one too. Ridiculous analogy I know, but chances are you know somebody that impressionable.
What scores of people fail to understand is that in many cases what we read and what we watch for entertainment isn’t the result of a master story teller offering the world a work of substance to enrich us, but more often it is the result of in depth marketing designed to target the brain of the consumer. It’s a pseudo-scientific attempt to stimulate the brain to release adrenaline and dopamine as quickly as possible to keep your attention. The entertainment equivalent of fast food! This is why we keep coming back to the trough time and time again for our ‘quick fix’.
Long story short, westerns are not fast food when speaking about entertainment. They require a significant investment both on the part of the consumer and those that produce them whether in film or in print and unfortunately we have entire generations that have been manipulated into having an appetite for what is served from the drive-up window. The good news is that the western, that long distance runner of a story, is still out there pacing itself and focusing on a strong finish.
We’ll Leave the Light On for You
Westerns and modern western romance continue to carve out a niche in our society and the world at large. They would definitely enjoy another golden era if Hollywood could be convinced they’re worth the effort to produce. The challenge is getting the powers to be to trade in their green screens and CG for wide open spaces and as long as western and modern western romance writers continue to produce compelling stories and characters in that genre, from time to time they will.
So as a reader why not pick up a western or modern western romance book and commit to reading it from cover to cover. Let your imagination run wild with the setting and characters as they bravely confront their fears and struggle for their new stasis. Let the story take you on a journey that echoes from our past or may be playing out right now in the new west that makes up such a large portion of this amazing country that we are fortunate enough to call home, you just might be entertained in a new and very satisfying way!