Monday, January 02, 2006

Thoughts on "Heroes in Hard Times"

While I haven't quite finished the book yet, I am not impressed with the writing style of the author and I believe that the manner in which he wrote the book lacks sufficient credibility, proper research techniques and literary style. What the book is full of, however, is consistency. The author loves to point out one stereotype he believes is widely prevalent, point out four or five examples of it, and consider it proven. He then repeats this throughout the book. Pointing out examples from a few movies does not prove an industry wide stereotype which would have to cover the hundreds, if not thousands, of police movies that have been made.
As far as credibility, I have found at least one large error which is solely the fault of the author and I am only half way through the book and working on memory only. This is his account of a scene in "Die Hard" where he, the author, claims that the hero shoots his sidekick's car with a machine gun in order to get his attention. This is completely false. In the movie, the hero throws the corpse of a terrorist out of a skyscraper which lands on the hood of a police car. The hero does this to draw attention to the fact that there are terrorists in the building. One of the terrorists sees this and shoots at the police car in an attempt to kill the officer and thus prevent him from reporting in. It should be known that I have only seen maybe half of the movies that the author is discussing and that I can't claim to know many of them as well as I know "Die Hard". This suggests that there may be other undiscovered errors.
My comments on literary style are directed at the fact that the book is repetitive and boring. The author points out things which I believe are common knowledge and highlights them with a few examples. Of course the sidekick isn't as knowledgeable as the hero, thats why he/she is called the sidekick. By definition, the sidekick is only there to aid, enhance, or contrast the abilities or characteristics of the hero. Why does it seem that the hero is usually white and male and the sidekick is black and/or female? Maybe because Hollywood's target demographic for action movies is usually white males? Sure, I could be wrong, but it makes sense to me.

Overall, I have found reading this book to be a chore; an exercise in repetition and of common sense.

At least thats my opinion.
-Gordon Kirsch


Blogger Vladigogo said...

You are correct about the errors that pop up in the text.

At one point he mentions that in FARGO Marge is nine months pregnant as she shoots the criminal in the leg and then lectures him in her cop car.

She actually is only seven months pregnant and this information is crucial to the way the Coen Bros. present Marge. They rarely make reference to her pregnancy or how far along she is, but in the poignant last moment of the film as Marge and her duck painting husband are in bed, one says: "Two more months." The other repeats it: "Two more months." It's a great moment in a great film. A subtle comment about the nature of them as parents to be, as a couple, and about the state of the world as a whole.

But do you buy his larger argument about what cops in cop movies stand for?

4:38 PM  
Blogger etibbs said...

I agree with Gordon... the author needs to consider making some stylistic changes. His sentences are much too long and often times very hard to follow. I am also interested by what Gordon says about sidekics, Maybe the very definition of sidekicks makes them lesser characters. They are not the heroes. If everyone were a hero then the the term would be meaningless. So, there must be chracters who are "good", without being the main hero. Sidekicks are less knowledgable, less respected, etc, etc because they are sidekicks, not becuase society is trying to belittle certain people. But the author is correct in pointing out that most sidekicks are minorities, or non white males.There is a certain sterotype of who/what is "hero" material, who/what is not.

10:53 PM  

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