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Friday, 13 August 2010


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Tom Elrod

It almost makes you pine for the halcyon days when Inception was coming out.


Apparently disdain for Road House unites right and left. I've never understood it: it's the closest thing to a full-bore Greek tragedy ever produced in '80s action garb, possibly in American mainstream movies ever.

The Expendables would be artistically interesting if and only if it's such a quintessentially pure distillation of the white-guy action genre that it allows all those actors to stop making white-guy action films because nothing's left but self-parody. Or perhaps this is the self-parody that allows them to stop, the way Shatner had to publicly diss Trekkies to be taken seriously.

As for the supposed degendering of children's television and toys.... have they shopped for children lately? Watched television? It's worse than ever.


Unfortunately, it seems that "Expendables" will not live up to my expectations. From the New Yorker review:

“The Expendables” is savage yet inert, and breathtakingly sleazy in its lack of imagination.


You seem to hate Expendables for several reasons:
1) The hype-generating marketing machine that has thrown its considerable weight behind a summer blockbuster. Your annoyance is understandable, but I don't see how that's the fault of the film itself.

2) People you don't like enjoy action-packed, nationalistic, violent movies from the 80s. There's a quote about Shakespeare actually being good despite the sorts of people who like him. Saying this is purely the domain of fly-over rednecks is a little broad brush. Probably the only thing a Midwestern conservative and I would be able to agree upon is Commando.

3) That era of movies overrepresented white men and sidelined black actors from mainstream blockbuster roles. I'll completely agree with you here*, and add on the misogyny factor with Temple of Doom, Bloodsport, and so on having a token blonde non-character who can't do anything right. Comic books recently went through a similar backlash to "white author nostalgia": a minority character was killed off to bring back a previous iteration of the character that was Caucasian. Points similar to the one you make here were brought up; that though the decision was not made from outright racism, there are racist issues inherent in a Caucasian author pining for comics of the era of his childhood and reshaping the landscape to fit this nostalgia. A difference I'd cite between that case and this one is that the 80s action movie gives us something we haven't really seen in the current cinematic landscape, whether or not it's something that suits your taste-- in the case of comics, the change really didn't add anything.

The 2000s has been a parade of neutered, family friendly rehashes of 80s properties. In a world where the anticipated meeting of Xenomorphs and Predators in AvP* was a limp, PG-13 affair, can we really say the look back to the heyday of hard R action movies is purely chauvinism? There may be a demand that remains unmet. Live Free or Die Hard sought to pair one of the most iconic action heroes of the 1980s, John McLane, with the iPod generation via the literal anthropomorphized personification of Apple. It may turn out that the 80s action movie was produced by a market and a culture that will never be reproduced. Saying looking back is unnecessary because of the inherent misogyny and racism of the era's entertainment overlooks what made the era worthwhile at all-- something that won't be seen while studios make safe PG-13 flicks for teen audiences. I have immense nostalgia for the John Woo blood opera gun battle movies of the 90s, as do many American fans-- rather than immediately ascribe that to Orientalism, wouldn't a simpler explanation be that due to economic and political factors, there no longer exists a market in which Hong Kong action movies can be made?

*Incidentally, Predator 2, a movie I consider superior to the original, stars Danny Glover.
** While you're right about Danny Glover playing second fiddle to Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon, I wouldn't say Lethal Weapon/Beverly Hills Cop is an apples to apples comparison.

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