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The Perpetuation of Myth: Ideology in Bone Tomahawk

Carter, Matthew (2020) The Perpetuation of Myth: Ideology in Bone Tomahawk. Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik: a quarterly of language, literature and culture, 68 (1). ISSN 0044-2305


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The contemporary Western Bone Tomahawk is in the tradition of the settler-versus-Indian stories from the genre’s ‘classical’ period. Its story is informed by one of white America’s oldest and most paranoiac of racist-psychosexual myths: the captivity narrative. This article reads Bone Tomahawk’s figuration of the racial anxieties that inhere within nineteenth-century settler-colonial culture in the context of post-9/11 America. It also considers that the film’s imbrication of Horror film conventions into its essential Western framework amplifies its allegorical representation of contemporary America’s cultural and political-ideological mindset. As well, the use of Horror conventions amplifies the racial anxieties generated by its use of a mythic binary construct of an adversarial relation of whites to ‘Indians.’ To a lesser extent, the article suggests that the film also embodies certain uncontained ideological contradictions that, though undeveloped, could be said to contest its ideological coherence.

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