The movies have always had an effect on popular culture. Within the black community, even more so. I recall when the movie Superfly came out in 1972, how it left an indelible mark on black culture. Men began to perm their hair to look like actor Ron O’Neal in the movie. They began to wear the pimp culture clothing like he wore. They even put phony antennas on the back of their cars pretending they had car phone service. These lyrics from Curtis Mayfield’s song sums it completely: “Diamond in the back, sunroof top, diggin’ the scene with a gangsta lean.”
The hit movie Black Panther from several years ago gave us a different perspective on various African cultures. Popularly, we took the crossing of the arms across the chest and adopting the phrase “Wakanda Forever” to symbolize Black pride.
So after watching the Netflix movie, The Harder They Fall, I am hoping it, too, translates certain aspects of Black history to a modern-day sense of pride. I have always known that cowboys were Black. Otherwise, there would have never been a need for the term “cattleman.” But as the term cowboy became the more popular reference, as well as what was portrayed in prior movies, books and television shows, American society white-washed the image in more than one way. So to see that movie in glorious color with all the black faces and cowboy attire was fantastic.
I doubt any of this will serve as spoilers regarding the movie’s plot, but what the movie features is the feel and look of the old spaghetti Westerns that Clint Eastwood starred in in the 1960s and ’70s. The vastness of the Old West, the little towns that dotted what was then called Indian Territory, were beautifully captured. And if one aspect of that movie can become the new norm, I would love to see Black men replace the baseball caps they currently wear with cowboy hats.
Why the hat? Baseball caps to me represent leisure. A cowboy hat says, “I’m grown and I’m serious.” It’s something about the way a man shapes that kind of hat to fit his head, face and personality that I most enjoy. Cowboy hats are really not a “one hat fits all” kind of accessory. First off, there’s a variety of colors and textures that can be chosen. Then the brims can be narrow to extra wide. There’s more of a sense of pride when a man puts on a hat that he has personally shaped to his liking — from the dip in the middle at the top to the way the brim is angled, curved and shaped. And when you watch the film closely, there is one scene where that hat is more important than anything else.
Christmas is coming and perhaps giving a cowboy hat to the man/men in your life can help to encourage a welcome change in headgear.