The symbol of American cultural imperialism

Jack Lang, French Minister of Culture, on the global success of TV’s Dallas in 1983

With the help of Hollywood features like Giant (1956) and lurid newsreels about death and drama on the barren fields of West Texas, the oil industry became as much of a touchstone of Texas cultural identity as cowboys and cotton. To people around the globe, the Lone Star State embodied a dramatic, flamboyant example of the American Dream, where scrappy go-getters could transform into wealthy tycoons overnight to pursue lives of opulence and power. While some Texans understandably chafed from media depictions of life in the state, others created annual community festivals celebrating the oil and gas industry and pragmatically grappled with the benefits and challenges wrought by discovery and production. Parades, sports, operas, and even cheerleaders proudly (sometimes loudly) helped illustrate and document oil’s enduring cultural impact.