Themes in Fallout ; NV Especially

Post » Mon Feb 01, 2016 8:18 am

So after seeing a bunch of people, both here and on other sites, say they hated the Western "Cowboy" themes of New Vegas, it got me thinking. Did people miss the real themes here? Are they looking at the Western setting in full, or just at the surface trappings?

So, what are some of the things you associate with the 50's? Coke-Cola? Big Cars? Sensationalized Futures? Well, those things too, but one of the big ones for me are Flash Gordon, and Roy Rogers. It is that second one that is really important here, we can see the Flash Gordon future parodies in every Fallout, from the the design of the energy weapons, to the space suits. Anyway, Roy Rogers was HUGE in the 50's.

For those who don't know what I am talking about, Roy Rogers was a huge actor and franchise during the late 30's through the late 50's. If you haven't seen any of his movies, they are largely Western "action-comedies" where the Wild West is portrayed very idyllically. He is not the only one either, the 40's and 50's saw a huge industry built around these "American Cowboy" themes.

Needless to say, most of these movies portrayed a the American Frontier in an unrealistic manner. Good guys were good, bad guys wore black hats, the women were beautiful, and the saloons were friendly. A very 50's portrayal.

That is just the first layer though, the one that I think most people are looking at when they say "I don't like the western setting".

The next is something you might also be aware of, the NCR vs. a more realistic portrayal of frontier pioneerin'. It is actually not all that far off from the realities faced with Western expansionism. Government man-power was weak, but civilian migration was extremely high. Supplies were sparse, so if you didn't make it in your first year where you settled, you were probably dead. There were new enemies, both human and environmental, around every corner. The worst of it however, was the government was simply not prepared for this level of rapid expansionism.

So we have the trappings of the idealized "Wild West", set directly beside a more realistic vision of it. See how these two very real portrayals of frontier expansionism juxtapose one another very nicely?

Now put this all in Nevada, home of the Hoover Dam. In the 30's the Dam was seen as a revitalization of the pioneer spirit, and the American way. It still serves as an iconic memorial to the "ingenuity" of America, but in the 40's and 50's, it was very nearly worshiped because of it. Nevada was fairly late to the post-industrialism scene, but defined it in many ways.

Anyway, next time you play New Vegas, if you already didn't see it this way, think about the story in this light if you fancy. It is largely why I am so captivated with it.

Edit: This is certainly not a new idea, and I have even seen some academically styled papers on this interplay, but with so many people going back the NV waiting for the GECK to come out for 4, I wanted to highlight it again.

What other deeper themes do you really love in the Fallout Universe?

User avatar
StunnaLiike FiiFii
Posts: 3373
Joined: Tue Oct 31, 2006 2:30 am

Post » Mon Feb 01, 2016 1:44 am

Nice read, I hope this will change some people's minds.

However, the fact that the setting is indeed Western makes it even better for me. I love revolvers and dusters and cowboy hats.

User avatar
Ridhwan Hemsome
Posts: 3501
Joined: Sun May 06, 2007 2:13 pm

Return to Fallout Series Discussion