Looping the loop of authenticity in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and Westworld.

Lovell, J. and Hitchmough, S. (2017) Looping the loop of authenticity in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and Westworld. Journal of American Studies. (Unpublished)

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The concept of the West was always ideologically malleable and this article identifies a loop of authenticity made up of different realities (see figure 1) and interpretations of the North American nineteenth-century frontier, from the original West, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West tours, the landscape of scenery such as Monument Valley National Park, through to the technological frontier depicted on the TV show Westworld.

Many authors have addressed representations of native American culture and the frontier and some have drawn links between the Wild West show and popular culture. None, however, have triangulated and connected Buffalo Bill, the television series Westworld and the concept of ‘staged authenticity’. Notions of reproduction and originality are at the heart of debates about authenticity as is the search for meaningful places of origin, such as the nineteenth-century frontier, which was said to be pivotal in the development of America.

The paper explores concepts of frontier-making, focusing on the various ways in which the West is staged and, especially, on how William Cody’s version of the frontier crucially shaped many of the representations of it which followed, including Western theme parks, crystallising in the meta-reality of the series Westworld. Nowhere is the difference between copies and fakes more clearly shown than in discussions of robotics, the post-human and hyperreality which addresses questions of race at the crux of a new discussion of the technological frontier.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General) > G0149 Travel. Voyages and travels (General) > G0155 Tourism
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Human and Life Sciences
Depositing User: Dr Jane Lovell
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2017 15:26
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2017 15:26
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/16604

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00