Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 15 seconds

Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Complicated: What Westerns Mean to Me #western106


Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 15 seconds

In the situation where you mostly hate Westerns but adore CogDog, do you participate in #western106 or not?

Explaining how I feel about Westerns is complicated but the first week prompt is to talk about what westerns mean to me, so I guess I can do that 🙂 i only noticed it coz of cogdog’s post. if I don’t participate again, you’ll know why. And you’ll also know why I might participate nevertheless. We’ll see.

Here’s what Westerns mean to me, in a nutshell. I hate watching Western movies as a kid and wouldn’t watch now as n adult


Lots of unshaven men (where were the women)

Marlboro commercials (and I loathe cigarettes and smoking with a passion)

Colonialism glorified
Colonialism glorified
Colonialism glorified
Can I repeat it enough?

As a kid I felt uncomfortable with how native Americans were portrayed in westerns and how Russians were portrayed in spy movies. How appropriate to have had that sentiment early on, because now my own people (Muslims) are the ones often portrayed in a negative light in media and pop culture. I am just imagining if I were someone of native American blood – how would I feel watching a western movie?


Country music
I love all kinds of music but none as much as country. I stumbled upon it serendipitously through the AFRTS (Armed Forces Radio/TV station) in Kuwait during high school. We had that radio station because of American troops stationed there after 1990/1991. It originally played half country and half pop. I would be listening to the pop and get too lazy to switch when country came along. I fell in love with country pretty quickly. I love too many country singers to actually list them here but maybe I will post some YouTube videos of country songs over the coming few weeks. I liked the music and the lyrics; I liked the values (sometimes) behind the songs. I also liked the CLARITY of the lyrics compared to other genres. You understand what the singer is saying and what they mean. Maybe others consider that less creative or less artistic. I know the genre is considered not high-quality music. But hey. I listen to everything and enjoy playing classical music as well as Beatles and Abba and Elvis and I love 80s music and I still listen to all kinds (even that weird 90s era – that was high school and college time, had no choice, haha)

Anyway. Country music is called country & western and I wanted to go there and meet thr cowboys and all (later realizing that many of the people who sang or listened to this music were probably v politically conservative and probably wouldn’t be too pleasant to me). I always wanted to visit Texas (not Tennessee for some reason even though that’s where country music’s home, Nashville was).

Living in Houston, Texas
Early in my marriage my husband got a fellowship in Houston. I was excited but wary coz people told me (Americans over here in Egypt) to expect racism. I didn’t find it at all. Mainly because Houston is pretty cosmopolitan. With a huge medical center where my husband worked with mostly expat/immigrant doctors and patients from all over the US/world… I volunteered at Texas children’s and people were lovely. I used to pray Friday with the doctors there and it was lovely. I met lots of Latinos and African Americans and barely saw a cowboy except at the rodeo and fiesta. Maybe a few white people in the library and at Rice University where I worked a little, but those white people were friendly and (election year 08) most were Obama or Clinton supporters.

What cowboys?

Anyway – let me end this with one of my fave country songs by Clay Walker (clever lyrics)


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