YellowstoneKevin Costner stars in ‘The Modern-Day Western,’ which is also one of the most popular. Most popular TV showsRight now. This fourth season of the series follows John Dutton, Costner’s character, as he struggles to protect his family’s lifestyle on Montana’s Paradise Valley ranch. The action-packed drama has captured the attention of Americans across the country—many of them in small-market towns and cities in “flyover” states.
The show’s popularity—with its sometimes corny dialogue and Middle America–focused themes—has media elites scratching their heads. Vox It was called “a watchable yet almost relentlessly three-out-of-five-stars TV show” and lamented that it “is not particularly interested in saying anything grand or sweeping about the world.” HBO’s SuccessionWhile, with a similar theme to family business legacy, has been an Emmy-winning favorite of media critics but only draws a tiny fraction of the viewers, Yellowstone‘s viewership. Simply 1.7 MillionTo view the live broadcast, viewers tuned in Succession‘s Season finale, last month. Over 11 millionFor Yellowstone‘s. A YellowstonePrequel film starring Faith Hill and Tim McGraw that premiered last month 1883, Nearly 5 MillionIt has over 500,000 viewers. largest cable premiere since 2015.
Yellowstone‘s appeal, along with the apparent disinterest of the chattering class, reveals familiar red-state–blue-state cultural divisions. It’s not preachy or moralizing. But part of its appeal is how it features real-world issues facing heartland communities—topics that are often unfamiliar, or poorly understood, by coastal critics who might perceive YellowstoneLowbrow.
Consider the show’s depiction of the tensions between urban and rural communities—whether in the context of disputes over water rights, property boundaries, or wildlife interactions. The Property and Environment Research Center, our organization (PERC) is headquartered in Bozeman Montana. YellowstoneTakes place, as recently published in entire magazine issueThe show explores issues. The plots often involve transplants and big-city builders fighting with their local neighbors. It is common for conflict to occur instead of cooperation.
In the series premiere, developers in California are seen in Bozeman looking at their plans for building a subdivision near the ranch of the Duttons. If one asks about the possibility of damming a river unilaterally, and redirecting it from the ranch in order to provide water for their vacation-home developments with power, another responds, “On our ground, it is our river. Gentlemen, this is not California. It’s Montana. It’s possible to do what you like.” It’s fantasy—a Advanced Western water rights system, known as prior Appropriation emerged more than a century ago to preclude such a conflict-ridden approach—but it captures the urbanite-elite disdain for traditional ways of life that YellowstoneIt is so common to illustrate.
Consider another example, the Duttons constant battle with federal endangered-species regulations. The Endangered Species Act can be seen at various points throughout the program as a tool to help or hinder Duttons’ cattle-ranching operation, or used by the antagonists to expel them. One scene features a lawyer representing a real-estate investor. PlanTo attack the family by using environmental regulations with “a thousand little cut” One of the Duttons cowboys In self defense, shoots an endangered gry bearThis led to a lengthy investigation that resulted in the Duttons trying to avoid being prosecuted under the Endangered Species Act.
Endangered Species Act has a fundamental problem. It penalizes landowners who provide habitat to endangered species, such as the Duttons. It focuses on the divide between urban and rural animal lovers who wish to protect species and rural landowners who have to bear the cost. These situations often lead to endangered species being pitted against their landowners. A “shoot and shovel, then shut up” approachThis is not only bad for people, but also species. According to the sheriff, when someone kills a bear, 10000 vegans will write letters to their congressional representatives. You should have buried that thing in a hole before I got here because I ain’t the problem—the feds are!”
Other scenes depict Problems associated with livestock and wolves. Some states have set aside funds for ranchers to cover livestock that was killed or snatched by predators, as the wolf population has rebounded in most of the American West. Although these programs may have been able to help ranchers reduce the cost of living with wolves for a while, it does not make rural landowners feel that wolves are an economic asset. Strategies that benefit local communities will be beneficial to the predators in order to ensure wolf recovery is sustainable.
Similar situations are being played out right now. Wyoming and Montana have recently asked the federal government to take grizzly population off the federal endangered species listing. dramatic recoveries in recent decadesConflicts with landowners in rural areas and their residents are on the rise. Despite U.S. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service attempted to remove Yellowstone grizzlies from its list in 2005. However, due to lengthy litigation by environmentalists, this species is still listed in the area. In the meantime, there are ongoing controversies about recent Montana and Idaho wolf killing measures. Relisting wolves is a popular requestIt was previously delisted. In 2020, Colorado voters will be able to vote. Approved a ballot measure to reintroduce wolves in the state—in what amounted to a stark urban-rural split—angering rural residents who will bear the costs. Unsanitized views of wildlife make it a battle between us and them, which ultimately reduces landowners’ motivations to save wildlife.
Strife does not have to win. In the real-life Paradise Valley in Montana, ranchers face many of the same challenges as the Duttons—pressures to subdivide, the reality of being land-rich but cash-poor, and modern global economic shifts that increasingly make it difficult to stay in the business of bringing beef to market. PERC has launched a new program to encourage conservation and reward landowners that provide habitat for wildlife. This tool is funded completely by local organizations interested in conserving Yellowstone’s iconic wildlife. In partnership with one ranch, we created the state’s first “Agricultural Conservation Grant.”Agreement on the occupancy of Elk“—a voluntary contract that compensates the family for setting aside 500 acres of land as winter habitat for the valley’s migratory elk herds.
Similar free market agreements are also in place in the Valley. They all have the same purpose: To reward landowners for conserving habitat in a way that doesn’t benefit them, but also benefits Bozemanites, and other out-of-staters who may not vote in the same manner. More new tools will be needed to replace controversy with cooperation, and connect animal-loving urbanites to ranchers who provide habitat, especially given the national backdrop of polarized red-county–blue-county politics. Even though the conflict is exaggerated on screen, YellowstoneA lot of the references to institutions which are supposed to resolve conflicts about water, land and other resources, often refer to them. The show is known for using violence but we don’t need to do that in real life.
John Dutton states in his latest season, “There is a war waged against the way we live,” This sentiment is true for many across the country. Yellowstone This series captures what is important and catches the eye of more people than other programs. These issues are not only ignored by media critics but also conservationists and policy makers, who do care about the real world.