Thursday, January 21, 2010

Another Matter of Perspective

For this blog entry, I thought I’d vent an idea that’s been in my head for a while. You see, horror monsters, in particular the kind like Jason Vorhees or Freddy Krueger, are largely frightening (if you react that way towards them) only because they don’t fall down when perforated. Their single-minded, nonnegotiable, relentless pursuit of a goal gives them some distance from humanity, as well as the way they can travel without leaving footprints for all the dead bodies in their wake, and their extra-special attention to details whendealing with the opposite sex, but these are qualities just as easily attributed to “normal” people like politicians, obsessives, and mass-murderers. So what is so different about these particular characters that allow them to go from sick individual to unbelievable horror monster, except for the fact that any other person would drop after a 300cc injection of hot lead, but immunity to same gets you a movie deal.

Now for the above paragraph, replace “horror monster” with “action hero”, and notice that it still works.

I present to you one John McClain of [i]Die Hard[/i] fame. For brevity’s sake I’ll only go through the first film, but think about what he goes through. Once he notices that people with guns are threatening his wife, he’s determined to secure her no matter how long it takes or who’s in his way. Between all the people killed by the robbers and the robbers killed by McClain, you could just about fill an Olympic swimming pool with the blood spilt, and what’s worse is that a good share of that IS McClain’s blood. He is stabbed, slashed, beaten, burned, blown up, shot, thrown off of buildings, and while this is about the same as any slasher flick villain goes through, any slasher villain has shoes.

While the “slash” term is fresh in your mind, my next examples are Riggs and Murtaugh from the [i]Lethal Weapon[/i] franchise, and I’m going to treat them like a single entity. Whenever a criminal with greater ambition, impressive resources, and a better-than-average success ratio comes into town, Riggs and Murtaugh focus on stopping them at the sacrifice of family, regular meals, and at least two cars. Between them, they can count on being run over, kicked in the face, multiple bullet wounds, broken bones, smoke inhalation, and being crushed in any number of somewhat creative ways. Bad guys wind up strewn about the city like a bomb went off made out of corpses, the property damage is about the same too, now that I think about it.

But maybe the most perfect example is one James Bond. His capacity for ending life is so amazing that rather than attempt to prosecute him, the government of Britain decided they'd be better of licensing him, and they gave the same license to a few others so that it all looked right. He's also good at taking hits from hammers, bullets, and hats, but as if that weren't good enough he's possibly better at avoiding those same hits. Freddy liked to show off by crawling out of seemingly inescapable instruments of death, but there's something disturbing about the was James Bond can stare one in the face, find a way to make it kill everyone except the person it was aimed at, and pass it off as something casual like fixing the back of your own collar. Getting back to my point about women, both James and horror monsters face the prospect of leaving every woman they encounter dead, but where the horror monsters can't think of anything more to do with women than decorate the walls, James has trained women the world over so that they come to him willingly. That, to me, elevates him above the most vicious slasher movie star any way you put it.

So from now on, I'm going to write my action heroes like slasher villains and my slasher villains like action heroes, and I'll bet you I get praised for my efforts.

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