• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

The economics of Westerns

Bootleg Girl

Member
RPGnet Member
Banned
Thanks to Fallout: New Vegas I'm on a bit of a Western kick, and am currently watching Unforgiven for the first time. No, I'm not ignoring the movie to post here - I paused it. But this movie is bugging me, although not as bad as A Fistful of Dollars, because it seems to take place in a world whose only economy is vice - and that just doesn't seem terribly realistic.

Now, in The Godfather, we have folks in an industrial society and an urban setting, whose careers are all about vice and crime. To me, that makes sense. But so far as I can tell, in most of the Westerns I've seen, despite taking place way the hell out in the middle of nowhere, there's a very limited number of people who actually work. Now, Clint Eastwood's character's a hog farmer, I get that; but he's old and it's something he did after retiring from crime. Where do the guys who assaulted the prostitutes get the money to pay for prostitutes to begin with? How do people afford all the whiskey they're drinking?
 

Jack

Wave Man
Validated User
Okay, this is one of those times when reading up on the history of the period is useful. As is paying a bit more attention to the events of the film because they do explain who the targets work for as well.

The "cowboys" that cut up the prostitute? They're cowboys. Cowboy isn't just a random word for "guy in the west". It's something did for money. Hence the guys work for cattle bosses driving horses and cattle and such. The saloon owner? He runs a saloon. Those towns have smiths, carpenters, etc... as well.
 

Breogan

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
If they are, say, cowboys, as in, "I work for a guy with a lot of cows in his big ranch", they are going to need a place to waste the money on whores and liquor and that is not going to be the ranch, almost sure.

Same with miners, etc. A lot of people working on a wide area and not on the town, going to the town for supplies and vice.
 

King Snarf

Registered User
Validated User
What they said. Many of the first settlers of the west were nomadic types who'd travel to where ever there was work. This type of lifestyle certainly benefited those who weren't exactly the most law-abiding to begin with- i.e., the reason they went west is because they'd get into a lot more trouble back east (Doc Holiday being one of the more famous examples).
 

Fabius Maximus

Registered User
Validated User
Also, cowboys often made their money-- but had no place to spend it while on the trail, so they were notorious for blowing into town and basically acting like a bunch of frat boys on speed. The "Wild" part of hte west was very commonly associated with prospectors, cowbowys and other groups that were almost completely mail and generally young, with a fairly large amount of disposable income, who were more or less rootless.
the period after that? That's what you get when the farmers moved in, and more established, and especially more sexually (in terms of percentage) balanced societies formed. Unsurprisngly, that was usually the point where most of the wild types migrated on.

Again, one thing that's very, very important-- the old west, especially as applied i most westerns is the period from the end of the Civil war to 1900, thereabouts. There's a huge amount of change and flux in htis period, and a number of the economic questions don't make sense in any sustainable fashion-- because they weren't.
 

Bootleg Girl

Member
RPGnet Member
Banned
Also, I just have to drop in the observation of "Holy crap, that's the late Richard Harris playing someone other than Dumbledore!"
 

Q99

Genderpunk
Staff member
Moderator
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Okay, this is one of those times when reading up on the history of the period is useful. As is paying a bit more attention to the events of the film because they do explain who the targets work for as well.

The "cowboys" that cut up the prostitute? They're cowboys. Cowboy isn't just a random word for "guy in the west". It's something did for money. Hence the guys work for cattle bosses driving horses and cattle and such. The saloon owner? He runs a saloon. Those towns have smiths, carpenters, etc... as well.
Yea. Mostly what these people were doing is riding horses out on the trail, keeping cows in line when they travel from point A to point B and chasing strays.

So a lot of the business was not exactly in towns, but the towns were waypoints for the businesses.
 
Top Bottom