One of the aggravating aspects of “Westworld” is that it doesn’t delve into the whole myth of the Wild West that thousands of movies and TV shows depicted over the decades. The show has instead set out to deal with the robot hosts and how their experiences and the artificial intelligence is causing them to gain consciousness.

But why would someone spend thousands of dollars to visit what is, in effect, a Western town of the imagination? The only expressed motive seems to be to torture, rape, and murder the robot hosts with impunity.


But that reason is wide of the mark of why the western used to be popular, a mainstay of the big and small screen.

Westerns have a thousand plots, but usually, they boil down to a flawed hero coming to do the right thing despite himself or despite outside pressures. The sheriff from “High Noon,” the mercenaries from “The Magnificent Seven,” and the wisecracking gambler from the “Maverick” series had that in common. They would find themselves invariably defending the weak against the strong and winning the day

Every story had a villain, sometimes charming, occasionally insane.


And there was a girl to be won. There was always a girl. And sometimes she could use a six shooter with the same skill as a man.

Part of the problem is that the western has been deconstructed so thoroughly that one can hardly make one of that genre with the same pure morality that they used to be infused with. Heroes are not so virtuous. Villains may actually have a just cause for their wickedness. The violence with which things were usually resolved in the classic western only makes things worse.

Take a look at Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven” for an example of the anti-western.

But no one is going to spend thousands of dollars at Westworld dealing with moral ambiguities. Someone going to the theme park will want to face down a desperado in the middle of the street, defend a Mexican village against bandits, or outwit a corrupt cattle baron with the turn of a friendly card and quip. There does not seem to be any of that in the series, no one wanting to live a fantasy as a western hero.

Mores the pity.

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