The Death of the Action Hero

The Action Hero is dead.

What  happened to the gritty street toughs of the 70s, the block buster action heroes of the 80s, or whatever the hell was going on the 90’s? When did being a tiny, overly sensitive manchild become (as I see it) the modern male image?

I grew up with movies like Commando, Terminator, Hard Target, and Indiana Jones. I couldn’t wait to grow up and be like them. I always knew I wouldn’t be jumping out of planes or mowing down scores of faceless thugs, but I wanted to be tough when the situation called for it and strut through life with confidence.

Those movies taught me that yes, violence can solve some problems, but it also taught me that being bold, resilient, and taking charge of a situation is how to be a man. How many movies are there of the action hero who kills a bunch of dudes to get his kids back? In fact, me and my buddy Jim have this saying: “I’m just trying to get my kids back!”. Neither of us have kids, but to us it  means we’re here to get stuff done and not cause any or suffer any bullshit.

If you’re like me, you are wondering what happened to these men. Let me tell you the the story of what happened to John T. Murphy.

After years of fighting the Russians in Afghanistan, Murphy returns home to America – – returns home to a world in which he doesn’t recognize. His son is a thirty year old living in their basement, addicted to online role playing games, and the President of the United States is a black man named Barack Obama: one of his worst fears. His wife, Susan, was now a stranger to him.  The more he wrapped himself in his ultra Right-wing ideology and the in patriotic folds of the American flag, the more he realized that his true love lie with his brothers in arms. Immersed in steamy jungles, shirtless, their perfect  and smooth Adonis bodies shrink wrapped in glistening sweat, Murphy had left a world of group showers, longing stares, butt-pats, and orgiastic murder rites. Oh, the murder was Murphy’s favorite – – how when Murhpy’s bullets would pierce the brown bodies of his enemies, their death-throws like that of an earth-shattering orgasm would give Murphy a rush of heady delight that he never questioned.

He was useless now. A fat, balding, empty husk of his once mullet-sporting glory. What was this strange world other people called America? He watched helplessly as the banks and giant mega-corporations took all that he had fought and bled for. Then one day, his semi-estranged daughter, who in an attempt to reconnect with him before her wedding, finally convinces him to meet her fiance. Susan had been whipped up into a frenzy of household preparations and manic glee at the thought her “baby girl” finally finding Mr. Right. Murphy had already resigned himself to the notion that she was one of those lesbians a long time ago, but he shrugged off the mystery with practiced numbness and sipped liberally from his snifter as Susan flailed about and prattled incessantly.

The day had finally come. Susan had arranged a dinner party in the backyard; four chairs gathered around a small table, upon which sat a sparkling white wine and three thin glass flutes (Murphy had fought a small, silent war with Susan to keep his snifter of whiskey). Murphy had all but given up on his do-nothing, waste-of-a-son, and secretly hoped that his daughter’s fiance would be a low life scumbag that he could beat savagely. He smiled under his mustache while entertaining the idea of finally, after all these years, being able to finally fuck another man, covered ever so thinly by the condom of violence. When his daughter finally arrived, hanging off the arm of a giant black man, Murphy felt his world spin as a coppery taste had kissed the sides of his tongue. His vision blurred, and somewhere in the distance, he heard his daughter and wife call out his name in panic.

There went the last of the Great 80’s Action heroes.