Including pop culture references in traditional journalism is a dangerous game in today’s media, and only a few of us are truly qualified to do it. After all, there’s nothing internet commenters love more than jumping all over the mistakes of others – believe me, I know – so when real journalists try to merge something like blockbuster films with serious political issues, they had better know what they’re talking about.
For example, Dan Lett of the Winnipeg Free Press was a little too loose with a Die Hard analogy last week, and it simply won’t stand for one reader. In his editorial “Shuffling chairs in face of an iceberg,” regarding the leadership race for Canada’s New Democratic Party, Lett wrote:
If the NDP leadership race were a movie, which one would it be?
Perhaps it’s yet another installment of the Die Hard franchise. You know, a story of guys blowing stuff up for the pure, gratuitous joy of it. There has certainly been lots of that in the NDP over the past four months or so.
The pure, gratuitous joy, eh? That’s not really the story of any of the Die Hard films. Possibly A Good Day to Die Hard, but even that might be up for debate. Fortunately, Free Press reader Brent Neill wrote an intelligent response to fill Lett in on the careless mistake he was making with the plots of beloved American films.
In Shuffling chairs in face of an iceberg, Dan Lett remarks that if the NDP leadership race were a movie it would be Die Hard, “a story of guys blowing stuff up for the pure, gratuitous joy of it.”
This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the plan that Hans Gruber, the film’s villain, attempts to execute on Christmas Eve. Mr. Gruber isn’t blowing up Nakatomi Plaza for the joy of it — he is using terrorism as a cover for the robbery of $640 million from a vault inside the building.
It is, in fact, a perfect plan, and only Gruber’s misfortune to run afoul of off-duty cop and the speaker of the greatest one-liner in movie history, John McClane (as played by Bruce Willis), that prevents Gruber from succeeding.
Thus, there is no joy in Gruber’s plot — just gratuitous greed.
In defense of Mr. Lett, he refers to the entire Die Hard franchise. However, to piggyback on Mr. Neill’s excellent letter, the consistent theme of the franchise, from Die Hard to A Good Day to Die Hard, was misdirection for the sake of acquisition. Only in the franchise’s last two films, a historian of fine cinema could argue, was the plot more about gratuitous destruction than stealing or retrieving something. If the plans of Colonel Stuart or Simon Gruber had gone without flaw, very few people would have died and very few buildings and airplanes would have been blown up.
Only when John McClane entered the picture did sh*t get wrecked. I’m not sure how that works in reference to Canadian politics, but I promise to investigate further when I finish my upcoming book, “How the end of the Cuban embargo is like Jack Burton killing David Lo Pan.”
(Yippee ki yay, Jeremy Sawatzky for the tip.)