Welcome back ginandtacos.com viewers. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a monthly contest so for the first month we are going to hold one that is near and dear to our hearts: who is the greatest action star ever?
We here at ginandtacos.com will always believe that the superhero to cranky, middle-class civil servants everywhere, Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) of the Die Hard series is the best we’ve seen. But lately, we have heard more and more that the gothy computer nerd Neo (Keanu Reeves) from the Matrix series would come out on top.
(Note: save your emails. We are talking about the McClane and Neo from their first respective movies. We are also arguing about American action heroes, even though I still believe that McClane could take out Jet Li or Gordon Liu we’ll save that for a different day).
Both Neo and McClane have starred in excellent action movies that were immediately turned into crass and shameless sequels. But more importantly, each represents the trials and tribulations faced by their respective classes in their own times. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a better look.
Neo is the proto-typical late 90s dot-com web-surfer. He meets women in online chat-rooms (that somehow look like Carrie-Anne Moss), feels all detached and out-of-touch with his computer job, and worries endlessly about his life. That is, until he learns that that everyone who is not like him or his goth attired friends do not actually exist. Sorry rest of the world. It’s true that The Matrix is as self-obsessed as the aspiring dot-com barons it profiles – but the other thing about it is how clever it is. There are all kinds of nifty allusions, to Blade Runner’s grunge chic, to martial art flicks, to the Baudrillard books scattered around Neo’s apartment.
John McClane does not care about simulacra or other nifty allusions – all he wanted to do was sneak away from the crappy office party his wife dragged him to in order to take a nice long dump with his shoes off. Unfortunately, terrorists come between him and his small dream. The villains that plague Die Hard are all taken from the buffet of mid 80s middle-class white male anxieties. Remember when, before their 12-year-and-counting major depression, when the Japanese were going to economically bury us all? Die Hard does – McClane is stuck in the Takagi Building. The villains are straight out of that mold of villainous Eastern Europeans that we believed existed before the Iron Curtain fell and Bulgaria became a leading player in the Coalition of the Willing.
And that’s the major villains – we aren’t even counting the estranged wife, who, after taking her maiden name, fills her life with career ambitions for a major company (a situation that is the bane to male civil servants everywhere); the investigative reporter, cynically out for a quick story and played by the same guy who was the villainous E.P.A. goon in Ghostbusters; and that obnoxious yuppie that is always calling everyone babe and doing coke (how 80s!). You also have to include bosses among the bad guys: everyone on the police force, from McClane to his sidekick (Reginald Veljohnson) to the Police Chief is usually getting yelled at by their pushy boss, complaining about how much of a dick their boss is, or getting condescended to from the FBI (ask a cop someday how he or she feels about the FBI – go ahead, I dare ya!).
Sure Neo has to fight off kung-fu fighting computer programs and giant spider robots, but has he ever had to deal with a pushy boss? A pushy wife? While fighting terrorists? No. That’s why he should win, outright, but we put the contest to you, our loyal viewers:
April 2004 Monthly Contest
Best Action Hero:
Det. John McClane
|Neo||Det. John McClane||Who wins?||Catchphrase:||Whoa.||Yippee-ki-yay, Motherfucker!||McClane, by a lot.||Black mentor figure:||Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), who knows a little too much about the Matrix and the effects of club drugs||Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson), who knows a little too much about Twinkies.||McClane, twinkies rule!||At the lobby of the skyscraper our hero:||Shoots his way through dozens of police officers in slow-motion, Columbine-inspiring manner.||Is embarrassed to admit his wife is using her maiden name.||Neo.||Drops a giant bomb down an elevator shaft to:||Set off fire sprinklers.||Blow up terrorists on the first three floors that were firing on fellow cops.||McClane.||Climatic hand-to-hand combat scene ends with:||Agent Smith getting run over by a subway train.||the blonde Swedish guy getting hung with a chain.||Neo, for practicing the ancient art of Splatfu.||Is betrayed by that weasel:||Cypher (Joe Pantoliano), who wants to eat a good steak.||Harry Ellis (Hart Bochner), who mentions 60 Minutes and says "babe" a lot.||Neo. Cypher causes a lot of damage, while Ellis was just annoying.||In order to escape a crashing, exploding helicopter our hero:||Jumps out, rolls, then saves Trinity with an attached rope.||Constructs a rope out of a fire hose, jumps off side of building and shoots his way in through a window.||McClane, for the sheer implausiblity of it all.||Presumed after-movie activities include:||Fighting the Matrix, banging Carrie-Anne Moss.||Eating twinkies with ReginaldVelJohnson.||It's almost too close to call, but in the end it goes to Neo.|
So that's 4-4, it's up to you, the viewer, to cast the deciding vote. Click on our comments button and cast your vote along with any further arguments you'd like to bring to the table – we'll tally them up at the end of the month. Now go!