Jon Favreau (director of Cowboys and Aliens)
[paraphrasing] To understand painting, you study the Renaissance. To understand movies, you study the Western movies.
To understand the United States, you study the Western. In a previous post Covering the Distance, we said vast geography played a major role in defining America. Its politics has a more muscular tone for example to be able to transmit ideas over such vast distances to a wide variety of people with differing religions, backgrounds, ideas. It is no coincidence the US culture code for the car is IDENTITY (German code for car is ENGINEERING). It is the thing that lets you travel across that space -- such an important tool that it now is part of a national pshyce.
A western movie is a natural place to study America because her vast geography is most vivid in a Western setting.