Yee hah! Did you think I would reply?
I cannot disagree with the depictions of Western movies you describe… but might suggest you are talking about a specific portion ( the vengeful movie films of 1960s onward) of what I am suggesting is a broader genre.
Western genre is not my expertise, but I think you are looking at it narrowly. The western B movies of the 1930s were all the singing cowboys (and cowgirls, thought probably not strong women) Roy Rogers, Gene Autrey, et al. There are the farce comedies like Blazing Saddles that poke fin at what you criticize. Toy Story 3. There are films that take place in the West (that might count), Back to the Future 3, Little House on the Prairie. Thelma and Louise (which has violence yes, to men, Is that okay?) One of my favorite movies Little Big Man, does have the lead character white male (a bumbling Dustin Hoffman) who learns from the Indians who take him in (and is said to be a parable of the Vietnam War). Dances with Wolves, glitzy and over done- does that fit the Westerns you describe? The movie version of The Last of the Mohicans? The old Gunsmoke series was more soap opera that shootout. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid- some gun shooting but more romance, bromance, and adventure.
The Lone Ranger has a subservient sidekick (thought most of the time Tonto saves his butt) and in the first TV episode (I just re-watched) he takes the vow to use his gun and silver bullets not to kill– check out his creed http://www.endeavorcomics.com/largent/ranger/creed.html
Check out this children’s book series for the lead character, not an unshaven gun toting man, but a 12 year old half indian with Aspergers http://www.westernmysteries.com/
Here is a list — I’m a Big Fan of the Following Westners, And No They Aren’t Porn http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/i-am-a-big-fan-of-the-following-westerns-and-no-they-arent-porn and in looking some stuff up found this interesting article The Culture of Violence in the American West: Myth versus Reality (article, 2010, the Independent Review) http://www.independent.org/publications/tir/article.asp?a=803 which suggests the roots of the violence are the US Government mistreatment of Native Americans
The world is violent. The world is full of colonialists. The Marlboro man has been extinguished by a society that has largely (but not everywhere) stigmatized smoking. Why would we expect film, literature not to mirror what is in the world? And understanding something does not mean you do not study it, right? I ought to learn about society and leaders in post World War Germany, yet that does not require me to adopt a Nazi perspective. The same for the impact of Vasco de Gama’s exploration/exploitation of India. Or to understand the reasons for the secession of the South US leading to the Civil war does not require me to be a Confederate. Isn’t this category called “Critical Pedagogy”?
I realize you are framing the perspectives formed as a kid from the Western films you saw. I am saying I think there is a lot more to it, but I do not know for sure without going inside of it.
Yes, there are problems with some / most ? but not all Westerns, and I am not asking anyone to stay inside the smoking unshaven male gun shooting box. The whole way of ds106 is that you do is, as much, little, or none, as you choose, and what you don;t like, you say, or subvert. I am not trying to convince you to do anything more that enjoy both kinds (C&W) of music.