No Shirtless Cowboys in Chaps! Is Sam Elliott the Anna Wintour of Cowboy Couture?

Sunday March 13, 2022
Originally published on March 2, 2022

No Shirtless Cowboys in Chaps! Is Sam Elliott the Anna Wintour of Cowboy Couture?

When veteran actor Sam Elliott called "The Power of the Dog" "a piece of shit," it was because he was upset with its portrayal of cowboys. Jane Campion's drama stars Benedict Cumberbatch "as a sadistic rancher who makes life hell for his new sister-in-law and her son in 1925 Montana," Variety said.

On Marc Maron's "WTF" podcast (via Insider), Elliott compared Campion's cowboys to Chippendale dancers who "wear bow ties and not much else."

He added: "That's what all these fucking cowboys in that movie looked like," Elliott said. "They're running around in chaps and no shirts. There's all these allusions of homosexuality throughout the movie."

"Where's the Western in this Western?" Elliott asked. "I mean, Cumberbatch never got out of his fucking chaps. He had two pairs of chaps — a wooly pair and a leather pair. And every fucking time he would walk in from somewhere, he never was on a horse, maybe once — he'd walk into the fucking house, storm up the fucking stairs, go lay in his bed in his chaps and play his banjo. It's like, what the fuck?"

Director/screenwriter Campion and her screenwriters evidently didn't check in with Elliott, who is fashioning himself the Anna Wintour of cowboy couture, about their film's costume design before shooting.

Twitter user @McClellandShane put it best: "It's disappointing to find out that Sam [Elliott] is just another old white dude with outdated views on sexuality, masculinity, & gender. The mythologized American West was far more queer than we've been taught & The Power of the Dog & Brokeback Mountain (& I'm sure others) show"

Perhaps Elliott should get out of the cave that he's in and realize that cowboys can wear chaps and be shirtless, as these Instagram posts (some vintage) show: