I seek to isolate a moment ¬– but my moments are those that exist in the recesses of popular culture. Growing up, the main platform on which I developed my understanding of the world was based in popular culture. More specifically, the movies that would play regularly on HBO in the eighties when cable first became a luxury my parents were finally able to afford. Sitting on the couch with my dad, I would watch hours of action movies featuring Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Willis, Ford and the like. They seemingly celebrated the victory of ordinary men put into extraordinary situations. My memory of them, however, has always been slightly obscured. Many of the films I saw then, I hadn’t revisited until recently. I started to see how misogynistic yet homoerotic they could be, as well as how many of the films slip into racial stereotypes for their villains – many by which still exist – were so arrogantly blatant and mirrored the political climate of the time. It also fed desensitization to violence that has now grown into an appetite that craves films that up the ante.
In this work, I isolate fractions of time from one of the most influential movies in my life: “Die Hard”. John McClain represented the ultimate everyman with his older physic, receding hairline, and “from the block” vernacular that was much more aging NYC cop and less superhero. He was someone you could logically grow up to be and by reason be the unlikely hero in the extraordinary situation that plays out onscreen.
The work takes moments in the movie that isolates some of the moments often overlooked or forgotten that solidifies many of the constructs that informed my idea of masculinity and my understanding of the world. In one scene for example, angry German terrorists with guns are pursuing McClain. As he runs for cover, he notices a collage of nude women posted up in a construction zone. Despite the threat of certain death, he still takes the time to gawk at the objectified blonde taking him out of the moment. I was only nine when I first saw this ¬– and became one of many deposits in my formation of the female ideal.
By isolating these moments, I hope to access the layers of meaning that exist and often go unnoticed.