Via Big Hollywood…
(I’m apparently not allowed to reprint the article in full (like that’s stopped me before) but I’ve got respect for Steve Ditko*, so I’m merely going to excerpt…)
Here, he echoes Rand…
The much maligned B-westerns showed a clearly defined moral code, a standard. Those westerns identified a range from good to degrees of wrong, to the bad/evil.
The cowboy in the “white hat” (good), the hero, fights fair, helps people in distress, defends the law, fights rustlers, lawbreakers, etc. He acts as an agent of justice.
The cowboy in the “black hat” (the bad), the villain, fights unfairly, cheats, stabs, shoots people in the back, steals property, robs banks, rustles cattle, etc. He acts as an agent of the bad.
The cowboy in the “grey hat” (a sneak), tips off the villains about gold shipments, spies on the sheriff, on honest people with wealth, spreads lies, is an agitator, etc. He is an agent of compromise and corruption.
The honest but uncertain sheriff doesn’t have the information, knowledge, about the newcomer hero, so he’s suspicious, tending to believe the lies of the local black and grey hats who are posing as helpful and honest townspeople. He is an agent still collecting, weighing, actions, evidence, for a legal judgment.
The confused heroine is also not trusting the hero because of the uncertainty of the sheriff and the lies from the black and grey hats. She is an agent of emotional and moral uncertainty.
Later, the anti-hero western’s realism muddied the clear identities into greyness: “We’re all alike,” “Nobody is better than anyone else.”
Black, grey, white western identities were “smashed” and the new “status quo” offered a character menu of hash or a stew with no clear identities to recognize, know and savor.
While in this essay he’s mainly talking about comics (and in particular, about Joe Quesada’s multi-comic storylines such as Civil War**, that take Marvel’s cadre of heroes and puts them on a (for them) world-changing story arc, the point does come across that moral clarity should be valued. A fictional narrative (such as a super hero comic book, no matter how outlandish) or a B-movie Western or action movie (being as many of them also have the same structure as Westerns) seem to be very good delivery systems for libertarian thought. Think not? How many libertarians got their start reading Atlas Shrugged?
* Google him up someday – can’t find fault with a man living his values.
** And I’m going to review that series when I finally acquire all the trade paperbacks to the series.