For some odd reason, I decided to watch “Stagecoach” without looking at what distinction it had to go with it. Interestingly enough, I looked at the little parenthetical distinction after the film and saw: Outlaw Antihero. And after racking my brain for a while, I decided that yes, Ringo – the outlaw “antihero – could be classified as such, but I really didn’t see it in him. Yes, Ringo is certainly not a normal hero; he defies the law instead of upholding it, he doesn’t follow social norms, and he ultimately solidifies hero status by killing another Outlaw. Essentially, his status as hero is unconventional. However, throughout the film, he shows signs of heroism in his speaking up for the odd (wo)man out and staying to help the Stagecoach against Geronimo and them dang Apaches. So yeah, I kind of ruined the argument I initially set up by saying that, but I shall back it up once again with these facts: 1. While watching the film, the theme of anti-hero was oddly on the back-burner for me, and 2. The notion of the West being the home for the Outsiders and the Uncivilized and the East being the home of the Civilized cultured Folks really struck me.
While I watched Stagecoach, the contrast between Ringo/Dallas and Mr.Hatfield/Ms.Mallory was really what struck me. You can right off the bat who the civilized ones are supposed to be, right? Well, those two are from the South, yes, the South not the East. However, keep in mind that there is a distinction between the Southwest/West and the South. They are clothed differently than, talk differently than, and behave differently than Ringo/Dallas. They have the high brow air of those too cultured for the chaos that is the Western life. Meanwhile, Ringo and Dallas are generally shunned from other people (Ringo being an Outlaw and Dallas getting kicked out of town by a bunch of old ladies). The constant contrast between these two “couples” throughout the film was topped off by the fact that the true Westerners, the rough, tough, and uncivilized, pair came out on top. Yes, Ms. Mallory had a baby and everything, but she essentially cracked on the Stagecoach and Mr. Hatfield died, so… Basically, what I am getting at here is the whole idea of the West and its representation in the film through the contrast of the pairs/couples – which could even be extended through Doc/Peacock and Curley/Buck.
So, is Ringo (played by John Wayne of course), an Outlaw Antihero? Yes. To me, is this characterization the focal point of the film? No (I’m sorry Professor!!!). I guess what this whole entire rant that 2 people will read is about, is how the projection of certain pieces of art (yes, film is an art) is carried out through multiple mediums, two of which being the creator and the viewer. As a viewer, I saw the Outlaw/Antihero. As one of the other mediums, an interpreter, I saw notion of the West as being the rough, touch, uncivilized chaotic place that is home only to those anti enough or outlaw-ish enough to inhabit it.