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The Perpetuation of Myth: Ideology in Bone Tomahawk

  • Matthew Carter EMAIL logo


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 relationship between whites and ‘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.

Corresponding author: Dr. Matthew Carter, Department of English, Manchester Metropolitan University, All Saints, Manchester M15 6BH, UK

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Published Online: 2020-04-02
Published in Print: 2020-03-26

©2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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