Yvonne Hollenbeck: COLORFUL LANGUAGE | TSLN.com

Yvonne Hollenbeck: COLORFUL LANGUAGE

Hearing all the hype about a new television series called “Yellowstone,” and learning that it is filmed in nearby Montana about a ranch family, and because my husband is fond of the old westerns (having watched most of them multiple times), our TV was tuned into what was the first performance of Series Number Four. It did not take long, however, before he switched over to an old western, being disillusioned by all the shooting, killing, and filthy language. That’s the beauty of television, there is a button to switch programming or to simply turn it off. Apparently others had the same reaction, judging from many comments we have heard. Then there are those who thought it was great, but as in everything, there are two opinions.

There was a discussion I encountered on Facebook, where one person commented on what she perceived as horrible language, and was immediately chastised for her comment. One person told her to go watch reruns of Little House and that she apparently was unaware of how life is on ranches. I checked Mr. Know-it-all’s profile and learned that he was born, raised and currently living in Sioux Falls, so that apparently made him an authority on ranch life. It went downhill from there, and she was literally bombarded with hate and filthy language-filled comments, when the whole page was removed. I do not know if it was removed by the person who initiated the discussion or Facebook itself, but I was glad to see it gone.

In defense of the poor lady that mentioned her dislike for filthy language, I feel the same way. I do not know why it is necessary to use off-color expletives to describe anything or anyone. I also know a little about ranch life and I can assure you that shooting and killing your neighbors to settle disagreements and the constant use of vile language is not the way it is. I also know that, not just she and I, but nearly every rancher or cowboy I know or have ever known is of the same mindset.

We have many western history books and biographies of old cowboys and cattlemen where their experiences are described by their own words, and there is not one off-color word in any of them. These books are by the West’s best, such as Ed Lemmon, J Frank Dobie, Ike Blasingame, Teddy Blue Abbott, Ben Arnold, and many more, right up to more current ranchers, and the only mention of bad language is occasionally a description of a cantankerous old cowboy that used “colorful language.” Regardless of what some resident of Sioux Falls, or viewers all over want to believe, “Yellowstone” is not reflective of what ranch life is like today or yesterday. The series is part-western, part-drama, part-soap opera, and according to critics, “one hundred percent insane.” It is drama that relies on problematic stereotypes of cowboys and Indians.

In my opinion, one of the roughest, toughest, honest-to-goodness old cowboys in the entire tri-state region is Bob Lantis. He posted that he was removing anyone that uses the “f” word from his Facebook friends list. He said he would not tolerate it and felt it only showed ignorance on the part of the user. It was amazing to see the long list of other ranchers and cowboys that agreed with him and hailed him for taking that stance. In the many years of ranching, rodeos, brandings, and horse events, my husband claims to have rarely ever heard filthy language, and often mentions some of the finest cowboys in the business, commenting on what perfect gentlemen they were, especially around women and children.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could go back to good family programming, yes, like the Little House Series, movies like the “old” westerns, or even shows like “Dances With Wolves” and “Lonesome Dove?” It would certainly be a better reflection on our young folks and much better for us old folks too.


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