Few can deny the myriad benefits that the new era of action hero has brought humanity. He generates nonstop kinetic energy, capable of powering our modern conveniences like Blu-ray players or Bit-torrents with loads of extra features. He boasts levels of emotional endurance capable of withstanding stresses unheard of when our heroes were merely carved out of wood or stone, His delivery of satisfaction, in pain or in pleasure, is instant and constant. The modern-day action hero is many times more productive than his forebears: he is in more scenes and set pieces, he completes them faster in many more, shorter cuts, he kills more bad guys in slow motion than his grandfathers did on 16mm – he crashes more cars, he has more sex – the Gross Action Product of our modern day heroes makes the founding fathers of the genre pale by comparison. And he has impeccably photoshopped abs.
But one must at some point wonder – does this transformation in the basic action hero come with a cost? Sure, injecting a man with a poison so that he constantly has to supply his body with adrenaline or he dies is a great way to increase efficiencies and improve the general welfare, but is there a hidden cost to the action heroes themselves?
Or to all of us?
The In-Crank-rial Revolution’s human toll, after the jump –
Before the In-Crank-rial Revolution, there was a rhythm of life born out of centuries of trial and error, homespun wisdom, and handed-down convention. It had its problems – parasitic diseases were common, life expectancies were shorter (buddy cops often didn’t survive past their first sequel) – but it is easy to see why it was romanticized. The white hat and black hat stare at each other across a deserted Old West main drag – such a scene nowadays would require crane shots, CGI pictures of anatomy and periodic zooms out to Outer Space to see what satellites happen to be doing at the time.
Time was measured by the seasons. There was a season to discover the lead that gets you too close to the horrible truth, the season to turn in your badge and the gun and take mandatory paid leave until the case is over, the season to team up with your by-the-book partner to follow the paper trail to the abandoned warehouse, and of course, the season to harvest.
And of course, in such days, it was common for children to work alongside their elders in apprenticeships – the appearance of children in action movies was always alongside adults, where they would be brought up in the craft for many years before becoming, first journeymen, then masters themselves.
Nowadays, yes, children are capable of starring in their own action movies, where they are given robot suits or the power of flight, but certain of the finer social circles are beginning to doubt that an economy driven so much by children laboring in isolation is an improvement over their previous circumstances. Without the guidance and protection of hard-boiled cop/teacher/babysitters with surprisingly warm hearts, working conditions can become ghastly, and the children can be subjected to nonstop action set pieces, slide scenes, laser blasts – the sort of thing a child in days of yore would hardly have been forced to encounter unironically.