Movie Review: Urban Cowboy


European people received Christ with fervor, leading to varied yet beautiful cultural expressions.

As we gradually traded the true God-man for a systematized corpse, the life blood of our culture became weaker and weaker until today, there is nothing left but faint memories.

The movie “Urban Cowboy” starring John Travolta is such a memory. It is a modern fairy tale, set in a time that is not so long ago, and not so far away.

There was a time when blue-collar cowboy culture had a legitimate standing in America. Women would flee the city proper in search of honky-tonks…hoping to find a cowboy to entertain for the evening. Popular songs (like “Stand by Me”) were recorded by country artists for a country crowd. (Today it’s the other way around.) The women, and the song, were included in “Urban Cowboy” without apology.  The authority and legitimacy of this culture are taken for granted.

Bud (Travolta) moves to the city to find a job. He stays with his aunt and uncle in the mean-time, and they introduce him to the local country club. He meets Sissy, and the couple two-step their way into a marriage. But, as anyone with knowledge of Country music knows, their relationship was headed for rough pastures. An ex-convict ends up dividing Bud and Sissy. Pride runs wild as the married couple try to out-cheat each other, leading to a climactic bull-ride competition where Bud and his live-in girlfriend face off against the ex-con and Sissy. Will Bud’s blue-collar work ethic defeat the snake-in-the grass tenacity of the ex-con? You’ll have to watch the movie for yourself to find out!

While you watch, take special note of the way Bud and Sissy are contrasted with Uncle Bob and Corene (Bud’s relatives). As generations pass, the cultural influence of Christ gradually fades, and His beauty becomes less manifested. Aunt Corene notes at one point that Bud and Sissy “live like pigs!”  Bud’s relatives represent a Christ-like stability in Bud’s life. One only hopes that he and Sissy attain the same level of stability in their relationship.

Also, Bud’s relationship with his live-in girlfriend is interesting (as noted above.) She is a wild-woman…interested in sex for pleasure, and particularly interested in cowboys. Today, the same metro-chick is interested in the gangster wanna-be. At least the girl in “Urban Cowboy” had some romanticized sense of chivalry and virtue. When women of today seek their mate in a club, they look for ghetto-conformity. What romance is left? What brand of chivalry are they looking for?  If you’re going to be promiscuous, at least choose the cowboy over the gangsta! Oh how times have changed!

Honor, strength, and hard-work were glamorized in this culture. Guts, and integrity were held in high esteem. And, yes…as blasphemous as it may seem (to modern society)…when push came to shove…God almighty clearly lent strength to the main characters, and was a mighty presence in the background of the entire drama. (For example, Sissy was at pains to sleep with the convict, her conscience was really giving her a fit. In a few years, this scene may no longer make sense to the modern American…”why would she hesitate to have sex with him?” they will wonder.)

It seems that Europe has been truly looking for love in all the wrong places…and neglecting the savior that once made us so great.

(This movie gets 3 out of 5 stars on the Shotgun movie scale.  It’s got a lot of cussing, and is long-winded at points.  But the music is great, and the culture it displays tends to make one daydream about a better place…)

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8 Responses to Movie Review: Urban Cowboy

  1. slamdunk says:

    I have not seen the movie in years, and would not have thought about it in the respect you describe. Interesting review…

  2. You know, I’ve seen Urban Cowboy a zillion times, love it, and never saw what you saw in it, but I can see what you see after reading your review. Very interesting perspective. That’s one of the great things about the movie, it’s really much deeper than a lot of people think. Thanks for your insight. Now I have to go watch it again.


  3. Brandon says:

    I just saw this movie for the first time last night because your review here piqued my interest. A good film and I came to the conclusion that the 1980s, when it takes place, was the last American decade. By this I mean the last decade when white people where portrayed in pop culture in a positive light. Conservatives pine for America of the 1950s, well, the 1980s is when the last traces of that America died out before we discended into a maelstrom mixture of cultural marxism and economic neoliberalism from which we have never even begun to recover. I was born at the tail end of this decade (1988) too young to have experienced it but I can say that , in looking back, it was the last gasps of a dying Old America (which was informed by white Christian Europe. Anyway, you should do more reviews like this of movies and music, Shotgun. They are highlyy informative.

  4. shotgunwildatheart says:

    I want to raise my kids in an environment where the moral-norms of old-Europe are presupposed on a daily basis. I’m afraid though that, like the centipede who, after being asked how he was able to walk with all those legs, thought about it for a minute — and was never able to walk again.

    I mean: I don’t want to over-think parenting (if some woman ever loses her mind and marries me, and we’re blessed with children). I probably will though.

    Thanks for the kind words.

    You and I need to start a fraternity for those rare few who have gotten to post a comment at CWNY. At least, I think that was you.

  5. shotgunwildatheart says:

    (I stole that centipede joke from James Edwards, by the way. So everyone, throw your tomatoes at him, not me)!

  6. Brandon says:

    Yeah, that’s me. I’m also the guy that emailed you about Chris LeDoux a while back.

  7. so you’re saying this goofy movie is about preserving “white american culture”? no offense, but that sounds EXTREMELY racist, and it also sounds like you wish that other races of people in america didn’t live here. don’t get me wrong, i don’t care one flippin’ bit about the whole “neo liberal” mess that has existed and currently still exists in america, because i CERTAINLY do not. i definitely do not like what america has become, but at the same time, i’m not going to besmirch the growth and change that needed and still needs to happen in this nation. the last time i checked, when real growth occurs, there are usually what’s known as “growing pains” whereupon old mindsets are traded in for the reality of how things really are. personally, i find “urban cowboy” to be EXTREMELY goofy. there exists within that one movie every single stereotypical element and attitude that one would expect to experience in terms of what it’s like to live in texas, and to live in the south as well. i honestly cannot watch too much of that movie without facepalming over the sheer amount of “redneckedness” that exists in that one movie. what’s hilariously funny to me is the reality that urban cowboy is supposed to be taken seriously, and honestly i cannot take it seriously, not even a little bit.

    f.y.i. – i live in texas. i grew up for most of my life in “the bible belt” where “southern baptist churches” line the streets. i have a TON of real and raw source material to draw from just from my own personal experiences in growing up in a part of america that is so ridiculously redneck in some ways that it’s RIDICULOUS.


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