October 9, 2016

THE DECLINE OF THE WESTERN: Most of the recent batch of Hollywood remakes are pretty dismal affairs when compared to the original films they were based on. But comparing the two can tell us much about the state of the cultures that made each movie, and what was on the minds of Hollywood screenwriters at the time of their release. At Library of Law and Liberty, Molly Flynn has a nifty essay comparing the new version of The Magnificent Seven with John Sturges’ 1960 original, which put Steve McQueen on the map. But the she lays out some fascinating groundwork for her article with this introduction:

Tired of rants about how awful capitalism is? Here’s a fun trick: ask the people you’re discussing it with not to use the term “capitalism.” Politely suggest: since we seem to mean different things by it, let’s just say what we mean without using that one word. It might induce them to think, instead of grabbing pre-fab terms of abuse off the shelf and blaming every problem on that villain from central casting, the capitalist.

Emotionally loaded and so vague as to be almost useless, the word “capitalism” masks the massive phenomenon’s complexity—its fuel in varied motives, its entwinement with a legal order, and (most importantly) its moral ambiguities and mixed blessings.

But aren’t you bored? Thinking is just so . . . boring. Let’s complain about capitalism instead.

The new Magnificent Seven remakes John Sturges’ 1960 classic of the same name and has lots of complaining to do about “capitalism,” at the expense of its predecessor’s subtle and interesting civilizational themes.

Read the whole thing; even if you’re not a western fan, it’s interesting stuff.

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