Home' Scoop : Scoop 52 Winter 2010 Contents 104 scoop WINTER 2010
For men of a certain age, the 1987
film Predator was about as much
testosterone as one could handle
before their teenaged body s chemical
composition reached critical mass
and they ripped the arm off their chair and used it
to stove a mate s head in.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was the newly crowned
King of the Tough Guys and he was surrounded
by a posse of badasses in mortal combat with a
primordial alien badass possessing a penchant
for human-bone cutlery. Guns, jungles, aliens,
dismemberment, muscles: it was like heroin for the
lizard brain of the teenage male.
So, two decades later, there is some anticipation
regarding the news that the Sin City/Once Upon
A Time in Mexico supremo Robert Rodriguez is
producing a sequel (ignoring the lamentable
Predator 2 and Alien Vs Predator). The million
dollar question is, who s gonna step into Arnie s
combat boots? Drum roll please for... Adrien Brody!
Adrien... Brody? A beautiful actor certainly --
an Oscar winner for Pete s sake -- but the slender,
sensitive, surfboard-fin-nosed star of The Pianist,
an action star? He looks like he d be blown over
by a sneeze. Shouldn t he be playing the nerdy
scientist, or the conspiratorial government liaison,
or the wise-crackin sidekick -- all of whom end up
getting offed in the third reel?
It makes one wonder: just what makes a tough
guy in the 21st century?
As with anything human, it s a case of art
reflecting life (etc, etc). What constitutes "tough"
has changed with the times. As economics,
circumstances, technologies, medicine and mores
have evolved, so have the dimensions of the alpha
male. Humphrey Bogart and Arnie bear so little
resemblance to one another as to be a different
species. Both were men of their time: slender
Bogie smoking endlessly, a face like mahogany,
drawing a puny .32 calibre whenever baddies went
bad; Arnie sporting all the muscles that technology
and countless gym hours could muster and toting
unfeasibly large weapons, his success measured in
mortality statistics and zippy one-liners.
Think of the tough guys through history: Bogie
and Jimmy Cagney as zoot-suited gangsters and
private dicks in the 30s and 40s gave way to more
silent types like Gary Cooper and John Wayne
on horseback in the 50s. Sean Connery (and his
numerous clones) did the dash n slash with his
tux and martinis for the 60s.
Then another a shift. Bond was the last of the
unquestioning, taciturn action men before the
arrival of a new breed of tough guys: the sensitive,
damaged dudes, their baleful stares offset by their
cool ability. Think Steve McQueen, then DeNiro,
Stallone and Pacino.
A new book and a new film have prompted Daniel Murphy
to ask: just what the heck passes for macho in the movies?
WHERE ARE ALL THE
Links Archive Scoop 52 Scoop 53 Spring 2010 Navigation Previous Page Next Page