April 25, 2009

"Gunfighter" in Slumdog Millionaire

In Slumdog Millionaire, Jamil is a nice guy and his brother Salim is a not-so-nice guy. At one point Salim challenges Jamil with words like these:Are you going to be a slumdog or a real man? A gunfighter.Compare this with another quote from an Asian:American freedom: Riding horses and shooting guns.

Phon, quoted in Cowboys and Indians, Thai-Style, 8/7/03
It's pretty obvious where these fellows got the notion that real men = gunfighters = Americans. From the dominant American mythology of cowboys 'n' Indians, as promoted worldwide in movies, books, advertisements, and every other form of media.

Why else would Salim use the word "gunfighter," an Americanism coined in 1890-1895? This word didn't exist during the actual cowboys 'n' Indians era shown in countless Westerns. It came into existence only when Americans began bemoaning the end of the frontier and fantasizing about the past.

For more on the subject, see America's Cultural Roots.

Incidentally, I'd say Slumdog Millionaire deserved the Oscars it got, including Best Picture. Rob's rating: 8.5 of 10.

P.S. Yes, I know the Indians in Slumdog Millionaire are the wrong kind of Indians. Feel free to make all the jokes and puns you want. <g>

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