January 06, 2009

Best friends in TEX WILLER

Let's talk about the protagonist in the TEX WILLER comics. Based on this description, Tex has no flaws and has never lost a battle or done anything wrong. Sounds like a cardboard character to me.

The author says John Wayne or Charlton Heston could've played Tex in the movies. He also says Tex "has absolutely nothing in common with monolithic heroes." Well, except for heroes like John Wayne or Charlton Heston, who were well-known for the monolithic roles they played.

The Great White Chief

Some of Tex's best friends are Indians. As long as they don't "revolt," that is. Then they become "bad" Indians and he has to shoot them--purely in self-defense, of course.

As the "Great White Chief of the Navajos," does he support or oppose the tribe's sovereign claims against the United States? As a BIA agent, does he support or oppose requiring the Navajos to move onto a reservation and become good Christian farmers? As best friends with Kit Carson, does he support or oppose marching the Navajos on the Long Walk to Bosque Redondo and imprisoning them there?

While Tex stops racist townspeople, corrupt politicians, and bloodthirsty generals, I'll go out on a limb and guess he's never challenged official US policy against Indians. In other words, I'm guessing Tex isn't as much of a friend to the Indians as his fans think he is.

Whose side would he have been on at Little Bighorn, for instance? Would he have helped Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce flee or tried to stop them? If he'd seen a massacre about to begin at Sand Creek or Wounded Knee, would've he have shot the US soldiers who were only obeying orders?

I'm guessing not. I'm guessing he's probably a "friend" in the same sense that the Lone Ranger, Old Shatterhand, Tomahawk, and Dr. Quinn were friends with Indians. "As long as you maintain the status quo, don't question US policy, and accept the eventual assimilation of your people," he might tell the Navajo, "I'll be your BFF."

"Trust me, I know what's best for you"

Heck, does Tex even support the Navajos' right of self-determination? What would he say if a Navajo told him, "You have no right to lead us. You know nothing of our beliefs and traditions. If you really want what's best for us, you'll step aside immediately"?

Again, I'm guessing that hasn't happened in the comics. I'm guessing these Navajos are grateful to have a Great White Father to thwart their enemies and make their decisions for them. Such a paternalistic attitude would be grossly anti-Indian, of course.

I await the evidence that TEX WILLER is pro-Indian on a deep as well as a superficial level. Until then, I'm betting it's another well-intentioned attempt to assuage the white man's guilt over his genocidal actions. "See, Tex Willer loves Indians and I love Tex Willer." a typical fan might say. "Therefore, it's not my fault that the US is still breaking Indian treaties and cutting Indian budgets."

For more on the subject, see Comic Books Featuring Indians.


DineBoo said...

Looking at that picture, Tex's "woman" isn't even dressed in Traditional Navajo women attire. Navajo women outfits don't usually have tassels like that(it looks like they took the stereotypical Indian woman look and applied it here).

Also, the baby would probably be in a cradle board, not that basket looking thing.


Rob said...

I didn't analyze the illustration because I wasn't sure it was supposed to be Tex's Navajo wife Lilyth. Or any Navajo woman. But if it was, you're right.