Winchester ’73 reinforces the ideals of the rugged American west. Through its gloriﬁcation of violence, it relates very closely to Darwin’s evolutionary ideas. The men who are strong survive, while the weak are killed by the strong. The movie makes it clear that in the world of the American old west, there is no forgiveness and, if you aren’t quick on the draw, you will not make it out alive – simple as that. This theme is exempliﬁed in the death of Steve at the hands of Waco. Steve was not skilled with a gun, and so he was killed.
This is in stark contrast to today’s culture. Government-enforced mandates such as the “No Child Left Behind” Act attempt to ensure that the genetic lottery is balanced out as much as possible. Even in war, a team aesthetic is applied – no man is left behind on the battleﬁeld and the troops stand as “one army.” There is welfare for those in poverty and Obama’s administration boasts steps toward public healthcare for all those in need. We live in a seemingly forgiving world that tries its best to be “fair” and provide boosts for those who aren’t quite as “skilled with a gun” (or, in this case, those without a financial advantage). Whether or not these attempts prove fruitful is another issue, but our society certainly does its best to make its lip service of these issues seem as genuine as possible.
In the old west, these virtues simply did not exist. It was every man for himself and those who could not live up to the standards set by the cold, uncaring world they lived in did not make it out alive. However, it is not all muscles and brawn that are favored. The fruits of human ingenuity are revered in the form of guns. But it is not the minds that created the guns that thrive in the old west, it is the men who have learned how to use them the best that proﬁt from their creation. In many ways, these same principles play out in our modern capitalist society on a daily basis. It is not necessarily the man that creates the next big thing that proﬁts from it the most, it is the business man that sees an opportunity and jumps on it ﬁrst that does. It is interesting how different from the old west our modern society strives to be yet in many ways the same rules still apply, just in more subtle ways.