Searchers Essay

877 words - 4 pages

Josephine Eson-Benjamin David Gantz/ LEH 355Racism and ViolenceThe SearchersThe Searchers by John Ford bring into being a change of the social function of the Western film genre. Before The Searchers, the stereotypical western was a simple film to watch which focused mainly on the action as opposed to meaningful and deep messages being said in the film. Even though most Western films reflected early American ideology such as the conquest of the wilderness, demotion of nature to bring about civilization, the conflicts between Native Americans, territorial rights and Frontier life in general, The Searchers touch on many delicate subjects of early and recent American ideology, some that still applies to the American myth even till this day. One of the ideologies is Racism in which Americans are accurately portrayed when it comes to their notion and true feelings about race. Another ideology that Ford presents to us is how violence is an inherit part of American culture. Both these ideologies conveyed messages to people in regards to racism in America and how the American nation was found through violence.The Searchers is one of the first Western films to touch on the subject racism in a serious and unpretentious way. This shift from the bland and inconspicuous issue of Racism in America that we see in most Western films to a more genuine and eye opening look at American racism gave this Western film a more modern and realistic tone to it as well as greater psychological realism to the genre. In the film, Ethan is used to represent that idea. From the beginning, we see Ethan as ambiguous, far more than the typical Western hero. What really defines his character is his anti-Native American passion which is obvious and very disturbing. Martin, his nephew, is one-eighth Cherokee, and Ethan's first words to him set the tone for his antagonistic and abrasive relationship with him: "I could mistake you for a half-breed." From the get go you feel this sense of disgust for miscegenation between Native American and Whites. Does this ring a bell? If we go back in back in American history interracial courting has always been frowned upon, interracial marriages were even illegal at one point, Love vs. Virginia. Ford isn't portraying anything false here. Anti- miscegenation laws have always been part of America until recently. These laws enforced racial segregation at the level of marriage and intimacy by criminalizing interracial marriage and sex between members of different races. Ethan is a symbol of the Anti-miscegenation laws. Ironically, America has been raping women of other...

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