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Abstract

The movement of people and settlement of the American west has been psychologically and sociologically represented as engendered by a sense of Manifest Destiny. Yet, the western migration was fueled by capitalist corporations seeking profit by exploiting international markets for goods through extractive practices (principally animal pelts, fish, and lumber): the Hudson's Bay Company, the North West Company, and millionaire American capitalist John Jacob Astor. The economic foundations of settlement have, however, been erased in cinematic representations of this history, replaced first by the Hollywood Western and its myth of frontier individuality, and subsequently by the Hollywood road movie, concerned largely with an existential quest for personal value and meaning. Hence, the extractive corporate industries of the nineteenth century have been replaced by the corporate entertainment industry, the latter selling American myths in place of American pelts.

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