Where have all the (one-dimensional) heroes gone?

I was thinking today about war movies. Back when, we had the commando hero laying waste to the enemies of our country, without remorse or concern, in movies like “Rambo” or “Missing in Action”. At some point, this changed to movies that tried to show the horror and brutality of war, like “Saving Private Ryan” or “Blackhawk Down”.


Why the change? I find myself wondering. Is it coming from Hollywood itself? Are the liberal artists of filmmaking doing the change, simply making movies to try to show “war is bad”? Is it driven by a public that is increasingly anti-war?

And what inspired the change? Is it that the Red Menace isn’t such a menace anymore? Changed attitudes in the 90s because of a time of (relative peace)? Is it simply that CG and effects have come along that make it easier to show battle as gritty, gory, and bloody? Maybe now that we are at war again, we don’t want to see it – maybe that’s why most war films now are of medeival or ancient times instead of modern warfare (Braveheart, Gladiator, Troy, etc.).

These are the things I think about. I can’t say as I miss the “Rambo” stereotype character, but I do grow weary of “horrors of war” type movies. Anyway, just thinking.


~ by mattbear on September 21, 2006.

2 Responses to “Where have all the (one-dimensional) heroes gone?”

  1. I think the answer to this question is probably pretty complex and involves economics, the geopolitical landscape of the 80s vs now and the swaying tastes of the consumer.

    There’s no doubt the cold war contributed to an atmosphere that made movies with heroes that killed without consequence or conscience popular. It was easy to define who the bad guys were and it was always ok to kill the bad guys. Think: nazis as bad guys in video games. You can’t lose.

    But after the Cold War, we didn’t have any clear enemies. Communists? We give them most favored nation status. Only relatively recently did we have to start dealing with terrorists, but maybe they’ll be the new boogeymen in a slew of new kill ’em all flicks.

    I also think the state of the film industry isn’t in a place that accomodates those sort of films. Indiscriminate killing isn’t popular anymore. It takes one-dimensional characters to create a movie like that and the modern film-goer is a bit more savvy than that nowadays. Now, I say that knowing full well SOMEBODY is going to see those goddamn Wayans Brothers films, but I’m speaking generally.

    I dunno. I could be way off, but honestly, I’m glad there are no more Rambos. I kinda wish there were more First Bloods, though.

  2. I don’t know if I’ll miss the genre entirely, but I will miss some of the best lines ever to grace the silver screen.

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