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(49) Lila

The films Dances with Wolves and Legends of the Fall represent a definite early 1990s movement, perhaps a product from the New Age craze in the 1980s, to reconceptualise American manhood. In both films, the male leads, Kevin Costner and Brad Pitt, are inducted into Red Indian culture—in the former case, completely abandoning America altogether; both are nu-men—although they are muscly, they are sensitive; they weep openly, they feel openly (the model is the above poster from the late 1980s, the hunk who cares). The young Pitt was particularly meant to be a vector for sensitive masculinity—and even in scenes set in WWI the nu-male is untroubled by mud.

Red Indians raped, murdered, abducted, and mutilated European settlers—often for no good reason. By the 1990s, this had been forgotten: Red Indians lived in “natural harmony” with their environment and in communities that were “naturally egalitarian” (socialistic). The Traditionalist view on disparate tribes is that they represent a degeneration from a lost higher civilisation—perhaps the Red Indians were remnants of Atlantis; and their spirituality, as with ayahuasca, is taken to be Satanic. In Wolves and Fall, it is taken to be deeper than Christianity (absent from both films).

However, there is some truth to the attractiveness found in Red Indian spirituality. For people who live in a secularised bureaucratic techno-scientific democracy “Native American spirituality” is indeed more attractive than what is on offer—what is on offer is atheism (certainly if you are an Episcopalian); and, further, though manipulated by the left, it is true that industrialism damages nature and alienates people from it. This is why, especially in a decadent period, Red Indian spirituality seems attractive, being closer to the real thing in its primitiveness. In the “proper” Westerns, John Wayne already played to a population in decadence—taking in a Wayne picture at a drive-in with a milkshake was already far-removed from the Frontier; the final step was to wear Red Indian culture like a buffalo skin.


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