Action Movies Essay Research Paper Simply by — страница 4

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tendency of action films: to better highlight (and fetishize) masculinity, action films almost always have solo heroes, but seldom more than a partnership of two. If a third male is present, he's usually there for comic relief, as is Joe Pesci in the second through fourth Lethal Weapon films. Willis as McClane adopts the persona of a cowboy not just because he wants to, but because he already knows that this is how Gruber will see him as he moves solo through the building, moving from floor to floor as a gunfighter in a Western moves from Main Street building to Main Street building, or from protective rock to protective rock. But his is a very Reaganite version of the Western. Gruber questions the mystery man who threatens to ruin his plans:Gruber: Who are you? Just another

American who saw too many movies as a child? Another orphan of a bankrupt culture who thinks he's John Wayne, Rambo, and Marshall Dillon?McClane: I was always kind of partial to Roy Rogers, actually. I really liked those sequined shirts.Gruber: Do you really think you have a chance against us, Mr. Cowboy?McClane: Yippee-ki-yay, motherf**ker.Two things are notable in this exchange. First of all, as Gruber accurately states, Rambo has already become comfortably lodged in the canon of ass-kickers between John Wayne (a real person) and Marshal Dillon (another fictional character), both Western icons, one from film, one from television. In this, the terrorist also puts his finger on Reagan's own difficulties discerning the difference between representation and fact, filmic

re-enactment and history, problems which seemed also subsequently to effect the nation. The Wayne/Rambo/Dillon trajectory is seen as an undifferentiated continuum, and this brings us back to the way in which action films exist as a space of hyper-fantasy in which anxieties about masculinity, and its loss of power and agency, are expressed and resolved partly through this conflation of fiction and reality. Secondly, McClane rejects the macho models Gruber offers him in favor of a Western figure whose primary purpose, like Reagan's before he was president, was to entertain. The disingenuousness of the response is also clear. Nevertheless, McClane will continue to masquerade as the ironic embodiment of the "King of the Cowboys" for the rest of the film. What will be in

keeping with the appropriation of the Roy Rogers persona is the way that through the course of the film, McClane, like Rogers over his career, will become increasingly violent in order to bring the narrative to a successful close. Ultimately, the frontier of the high-rise Nakatomi Corporation is re-Americanized, saved from foreign interlopers, and made safe for American civilization.In the film's second ideological agenda, a domestic one, McClane engages in community preservation. In the political logic of both Reagan and Die Hard, this project is two-fold. First, it means saving his wife from her feminist leanings, which ultimately displays itself in McClane's saving her from the German terrorist and her Japanese multinational corporation. This makes Die Hard a classic captivity

narrative, in which the white woman needs to be saved from the advances of cultural Others who are depicted as savage. His wife is, of course, glad to be rescued. At the end of the film she re-adopts her married name, proudly and girlishly proclaiming herself not Holly Generro but, as she corrects her husband, "McClane. Holly McClane."Die Hard's other domestic chore (one that Lethal Weapon also attempts) is the restoration of a particularly white masculinity, and this, too, is typical of action films of the 1980s, though with the rise of African American male stars like Wesley Snipes (Passenger 57 (1992), Blade (1998)) and especially Will Smith (Bad Boys (1995), Men in Black (1997), Independence Day (1997), Enemy of the State (1998), and Wild, Wild, West (1999)), the

generic definition of masculinity is no longer so strictly race-based. But in Die Hard, Sergeant Al Powell (Reginald Veljohnson), a black L.A. police officer who is initially the only one who believes that McClane is not a crackpot, and stands loyally by this man he has never met, is the first to recognize the heroic implications of McClane's cowboy pseudonym, and it is through this recognition that the pair form their bond. As the plot thickens, we also learn that Powell has accidently shot and killed a child and is therefore no longer capable of drawing his weapon. Emasculated, he is further desexualized by being relentlessly drawn as a family man (as is Danny Glover's Sergeant Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon), whose sex drive has been safely reigned in for pro-creative purposes (his