Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Anatomy of a Boss

While there are countless negatives attached to the snowballing advances in modern technology, there are more than a few benefits and pleasing offshoots. Take the DVD and all that it has wrought, including a company called Netflix. To cut to the chase, I’ve been watching episodes of Rawhide via my Netflix gift subscription. This classic American western television series—with its unforgettable theme song —starred Eric Fleming as cattle trail boss Gil Favor. Taking his herd along the Sedalia Trail from Texas to Missouri, Favor and his men naturally encountered troubles along the way. Sometimes it was inhospitable weather, bloodthirsty Indians, greedy bandits, sickness, and—alas for the harried trail boss—very poor help. Nevertheless, Favor and his understudy Rowdy Yates, played by a young and little known actor named Clint Eastwood, somehow endured through the rough and tumble of the frequently unforgiving landscape they traversed.

It was, nonetheless, an era when men were evidently men. Recently, I watched an episode where a haplessly green eighteen year old joined Mr. Favor’s outfit. Ordered to rein in some misbehaving cattle, the youngster was no match for the bovine ensemble’s frenzied antics. Rowdy desperately wanted to intervene on the boy’s behalf, but Mr. Favor, who had assigned him another vital task, refused to allow it. When the poor kid was trampled to death, Rowdy was disgusted with his the incredible callousness of his boss, who told him point-blank that “men are replaceable; cattle aren’t.” By the end of the episode, though, Rowdy somehow understood where Mr. Favor was coming from in their cow-eat-cow world.

Favor’s cool hard line, which was probably closer to the reality of the times and job, wouldn’t wash today on the small screen. He was, after all, the show’s leading man, authority figure, and hero. But then when you get right down to it, I suspect there are more than a few boss figures who believe men (and women) are replaceable. Head ‘em up; move ‘em out!

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