Wandering the ‘Net, I came across this little gem of a paragraph tucked deep in an old movie review of “The Tuxedo”. Ah, Jackie Chan, you were a great way to spend the 1980s. Hollywood has many action movie actors but you were the one and only action movie blooper actor.
Having taken away the only reason for watching a Jackie Chan movie, namely the authenticity of Jackie Chan himself, what have the filmmakers given us in return? Teenage wish-fulfilment of a kind increasingly familiar in action pictures these days. In XXX, for instance, the charm of the scenario lies in the idea that lazy, undisciplined slackers like, well, moi, can wander in off the street and instantly outperform the highly trained secret agents that were the role models of yesteryear. Mr Chan now lends his own highly disciplined physical skills to a similar imposture: that enough of the right technology can render skill and discipline unnecessary. Isn’t this, by the way, an attitude which was recently being talked of as having made American intelligence gathering in many dangerous parts of the world less effective than it should be?
Actually no, this is the traditional American attitude in which a bunch of marginally literate frontier hicks thought they could live their own lives better than an established and respectable authority could tell them how. We were right and to this very hour, we amateur morons ROUTINELY outperform licensed, credentialed and experienced professionals. Granted, the American intelligence network sets a low bar by trying to assist foreign threats to America instead of thwarting them like it’s supposed to, but Elites always like to play God.
More than that, Bowman’s attitude is a common one towards the superhero genre of fiction/art. Random people get superpowered to the point of being able to dictate terms to the Powers That Be? How can we be interested in such an idea, let alone fascinated?
1. Because it’s true. Like Jackie Chan’s Space Marine Tux, modern technology has allowed people to be capable of heroic feats. Few of the pivotal inventions of the 18-20th Centuries came from government think tanks or corporate research parks. All I needed to be a hard-hitting investigative journalist was an internet connection and lazy afternoons… and I do a better job of it than J-school graduates.
2. Because people want power over their own lives. When faraway tyrants yank our chain, we want to yank back, and the first step in doing so is to believe it’s possible to do so. In a bygone era, that was called the “Can do” attitude and it made the impossible happen.
3. Because nobody wants to fantasize himself an arrogant, self-righteous Elite of proper grooming. Even John McCain liked to pretend he was a war hero instead of a soul-mortgaged Corruptocrat.
4. Because nobody outside a bureaucracy has fantasies of reaching fame and fortune by punching the clock and paying the fees. It’s called Dungeons & Dragons, not Taxes & Training.
5. Because we live in a spiritual war that one cannot be “educated” for. Learn your trade and do it well but the important aspects of life are learned only through experience. Few come to Christianity just because it’s the factually correct religion. The endurance of suffering and despair gets stifled in the history books. Indeed, the problem of evil isn’t that evil is hard to find or poorly understood. It’s that evil is fun and rewarding! You don’t need a credential to have a good time at someone else’s expense.
It’s a good sign that young men are relearning to find inspiration in normal characters performing extraordinary feats. That has been America from the beginning. The power itself is just a tool. Archimedes’ Lever. The real question has always been, what will you do with the power you’re given?