So I was feeling a bit under the weather today, and that’s when a lot of thinking happened. Laying in bed, I came across the end of a movie on TV that had a ridiculous yellow-haired Bruce Willis and an equally ridiculous Irish-accented Richard Gere (who I must say looked rather strapping for an old-ass man) and these guys were chasing each other through the New York Subway system with guns. I think Gere was the archetypal good guy and Willis was the bad guy. Of course, the bad guy got shot a bunch of times before finally (and quite dramatically) dying on an eastbound train platform. Yes, it was fucking stupid and amateurish, but I was floating around on a Percocet cloud so, really now, who cares what was on TV?
But I started thinking about shooting people until they die. The movies are always so careless and unrealistic about these things, don’t you think? I mean in these hair-brained action movies, there are always a ton of bullets thrown everywhere. Good guys shooting bad guys, bad guys not giving a fuck and shooting everyone. A cornucopia of frivolous executions and forgettable slayings. But I started thinking about the good guys. If they’re all to be depicted as morally solid, wouldn’t some of them eventually feel at least an inkling of guilt about killing so many people, regardless of who’s supposed to be “good” and who’s supposed to be “bad?”
I imagine that, in real life anyway, there must be a certain number of fundamentally “good” people (let’s say some police, or even warmhearted drug dealers) who are forced into the occasional situation where shooting the “bad guy” is the only way to make it out alive, or perhaps killing one person is the sole means to saving the lives of many people. So, of these kindly killers (if they’re so kindly afterall), then there must be a percentage of them who just can’t deal with the trauma of taking another human life, despite having some concretely reasonable justification. I imagine further that most of these people never get over it for the rest of their lives, ending up drinking themselves to death or just… hating life in general or having perpetually low self-esteem, right? They must inevitably end up taking their newly-tortured existence out on their families, friends, and /or coworkers. This could mean spousal abuse, berating of guidance counselors at mandatory parent-teacher conferences, extreme cases of road rage, slacking off on the job, and who knows what else.
I guess I’m just wanting to know why, with the absurd frequency of “justified” murders in Hollywood movies, the good guys never seem to be afflicted with any subsequent moral infringement. Where is the movie in which the hero makes a difficult decision to terminate a villain, and then spends the rest of the time trying (but never quite succeeding) to overcome the ensuing guilt and torment of making this seemingly righteous decision? I want my action film heroes to be fucking dynamic! I know the simple answer is along the lines of, “It’s Hollywood, those people just don’t think that much.” But I don’t believe that. Especially with the studios recently beginning to cater more to the un-catered-to. We’ve now seen the production of films like Watchmen, which is chock full of complex anti-heroes that live and die in the proverbial grey area. Or something like Where The Wild Things Are, in which the protagonist is clearly fucked up beyond any kind of full recovery.
Maybe I’m just reaching though? I’m also one of those people who think we need more movies where the hero (see also: “good guy”) dies at the end. I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that people are as complacent as they are. We’ll sit and watch a million movies that contain a billion murders, but the minute these killings provoke any realistic emotional turmoil… well, that’s just too dark and depressing. Or something. This is yet another reason for my preference of peacocks and daffodils and beetles over humankind.
In summation, Richard Gere should die at the end of every movie he’s ever been in.