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Attitude towards bounty hunters

mct16
Member
#1 · Posted: 6 Sep 2011 10:29 · Edited by: mct16
I'm wondering if an American user can help clear this subject.

"Lucky Luke" is a comic series set in the Old West and, in Europe at least, is as popular as "Tintin" and "Asterix". Like them, it includes a lot of research into its subject, though the emphasis is on humour.

One such book is "The Bounty Hunter", which is available in English from Cinebooks.

In most books, comics, TV series and films that I have read and seen, bounty hunters are accepted by society. If they do have problems with the law-abiding, it is usually with the police when their cases overlap.

In this story, however, bounty hunters are presented as being shunned and despised by society as a whole since their motivation to capture outlaws is based more on greed than an actual love for justice. An example is when a bounty hunter orders a drink and the barman contemptuously pours it out on the bar rather than in a glass.

Like the best comics, "Lucky Luke" is, at its best, based on in-depth research, so is it possible that the authors were reflecting popular opinions (as seen in the early 1970s when it was published)?

This attitude towards bounty hunters is prevalent throughout the book. It may be part of the humour, but is it the normal view taken towards such people? No matter what their motivation, if it gets criminals off the streets and behind bars, then it should be applauded rather than condemned?

What is the view about such a profession?
jock123
Moderator
#2 · Posted: 6 Sep 2011 23:47 · Edited by: jock123
mct16:
It may be part of the humour, but is it the normal view taken towards such people? No matter what their motivation, if it gets criminals off the streets and behind bars, then it should be applauded rather than condemned?

I have a feeling that to many the bounty hunter is seen as being not much better than those whom they pursue, tantamount to vigilantes; when you combine this with the idea of the romantic outlaw, which is also a staple of the western genre, then the bounty hunter can often be thought to be in his own way a bad guy.

Take the case of Robert Ford - immortalized in song as “The dirty little coward, who shot Mr. Howard”, Howard being an alias of Jesse James. Ford was an outlaw in James’s own gang, who then conspired to get the bounty on James’s head - and so keen were the authorities to have him do it, that they threw in a free pardon as well as the $10,000 reward.

It can be seen from the popular ballad, from which I quoted, that Jesse James was the one held in high regard, and the bounty hunter was the “baddie”. Similarly, Pat Garrett often comes off worse in folk-lore than Billy the Kid.

Bounty hunters also operated on both sides of the law (at least in stories): they could be thought of as how Boba Fett is shown in the Star Wars films - prepared to track a person down for money, no matter who was paying, and whether they were in fact guilty of any crime or not.

It wasn’t until quite late on, in 1954, when Randolph Scott played the title role in The Bounty Hunter that Western cinema took the bounty hunter to be upright, moral and true - characteristics which had more frequently been given to the outlaw, in the manner of Robin Hood.
mct16
Member
#3 · Posted: 7 Sep 2011 12:14
Well reasoned, Jock, as always. Mind you, I think much of the condemnation surrounding Bob Ford is the fact that he shot the unarmed James in the back of the head while the latter was busy re-adjusting a painting. Hardly the fearless hero taking the villain on face-to-face.

And again, with Garrett, there is some controversy as to whether or not the Kid was armed at the time he was shot dead. On the other hand, can one really blame Garrett given the fact that two of his deputies had been brutally killed during the Kid's last escape?

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