Die Hard: a model of the enemy’s motivation

Do you remember the original Die Hard?  Of course you do!  It gave us a distinct action movie setup:  hero is trapped with a bunch of armed terrorists who turn out not to be terrorists, has to use his cleverness and bravery to take out the bad guys one by one.  It’s a great idea for an action movie, and it inspired a lot of movies that were slight variations on the same theme:  the official Die Hard sequels, of course (which were in fact the least slavish in their imitation), a movie that was basically Die Hard on a Navy boat (don’t remember the name, the one where the cook turns out to be a Navy Seal or something like that), two that were Die Hard on an airplane (one with Air Force One and an earlier movie on a regular airplane), and even an episode of Star Trek:  the Next Generation, where Immanuel Kant, I mean Jean-Luc Picard, is trapped alone on the Enterprise with terrorists-who-aren’t-terrorists.  Unfortunately for the knock-offs, I must conclude after seeing all of them that the original Die Hard really had already realized all the potentials for this general plot.

What is it about the Die Hard setup that makes it so appealing as a heroic fantasy?  (If I were in the mood to fantasize about being an action hero, I probably couldn’t do better than imagine my work building has been taken over by terrorists, and I have to take them out using my physics, princess-trivia, and blogging skills.)  On the one hand John McClane is outnumbered by Hans Gruber and his goons.  That’s what makes his beating them so impressive.  He’s cut off from direct help, so everything comes down to his own guts and ingenuity, just as you’d want for an action hero.  On the other hand, McClane isn’t really outnumbered.  Everybody outside the Nakatomi Plaza is on his side.  If he can survive this ordeal, he’s going to be a hero.  (Note the advantage of the supposed terrorists turning out to be just sophisticated thieves.  That way, the whole thing is uncontroversial.  If Hans had been tied to the IRA or PLO, he would have had some supporters somewhere.)

This is how it must feel to be a social justice entryist in an apolitical or conservative organization.  On the one hand, she gets to feel brave for working in enemy territory like this.   She’s outnumbered by institutional racists and sexists, but not really.  History is on her side, like a vast audience, and she can almost hear it cheer as she takes down the bad guys’ careers, one by one.  All the people who matter to her, all the people of her education and social standing, are on her side.  If her quarrels ever get into the newspapers, she can count on the journalists to be on her side.  Even if she gets fired, she needn’t fear rebuke from the consensus of the society that is most real to her.  Social justice advocacy is the ideal way to win glory!

Plus, we racists/sexists aren’t carrying machine guns.

Sticking your neck out to oppose immigration or letting people choose their gender, on the other hand, has a whole different feel.  You can still feel like John McClain if you want, but in an alternate universe where there is no one outside the Nakatomi Plaza, or where everyone in the outside world is on Hans’ side, and journalists are writing editorials to express their outrage that anyone would be getting in the way of his taking the wealth he so richly deserves.  And in this alternate universe, you always lose.  If you want to imagine an audience on your side, History won’t do; you’ve got to look all the way up to God and His angels.

Really, though, it’s best not to imagine that you’re any kind of hero.

8 Responses

  1. Under seige starring Steven seagal.

  2. God has matched us with this hour. There is no need for pointless sacrifice but I think he expects all of us to have a pair.

  3. @Bonald – That’s an excellent analogy. You are absolutely right – that is how it is.

    It applies at a social level too – the usual literary hero liberates a society from oppression, and everybody wants to be liberated: the society is like an explosion waiting to happen, the hero is merely trying to start the conflagration.

    But in the SJ world of politicial correctness, the people don’t show any significant sign (beyond feeble grumbling and irritation) of wanting to be liberated from thought prison, sexual inversion and mass media control. The hero is trying to start an explosion using a pile of wet leaves.

    This is what I find delusional about the (supposedly) Right Wing online ‘pseudonymous revolutionaries’ talking about what ‘we’ ought to be doing – there is no ‘we’: that is the basic fact of the situation.

    When you become a victim of the secular Left establishment – suddenly there isn’t any ‘we’ (only a few close friends and family) – the ‘we’ just melt away – and even people who know you personally (and should know better) will usually (kind-of, sort-of) believe the establishment/ media interpretation/ lies – even after it has been refuted, even if you refute it face to face.

    Essentially you are put into a position of having to prove your innocence of thought crime, of bad attitudes, of evil motivations – and it can’t be done. Among the worst of enemies are people who pride themselves on their rationality – they fail to see the set-up of the situation, and their ‘skepticism’ means they are never of any use, lack loyalty, never provide any significant support.

    (These people, most people, would observe a helpless individual being kicked by an evil mob – or find him lying bloodied and broken after such a kicking, but before actually helping the skeptic would need to check, very carefully, that the victim had been free of all taint of sin.)

    I’ve had a taste of this twice, and several friends/ colleagues have had more than a taste. I also know people who have had serious persecution due to what were in effect idealistic leftist views – and while they too suffer greatly, they are sustained by the international community of idealists, and are sustained by a lot of passionate personal support.

    Solid support from a church seems to make a big difference – but is usually lacking (because so many mainstream church leaders are SJWs). But when the church is solid behind the persecuted Christian, it clearly makes a big difference. For example Orson Scott Card suffered one of the most outrageously dishonest, hate campaigns of recent years – with major mass media simply lying about his supposed views and attempting to destroy his livelihood.

    Of course, they had a very big effect and the SJWs mostly won – BUT OSC does not seem to have been terribly bothered by the experience, he comes across as havig been in essence untouched by it – and I suspect (I have no personal knowledge, but this would fit) this will have been because he was being solidly supported behind the scenes by his church group including senior leaders – that, at least ,would be typical of the way the CJCLDS apparently works.

    I thnk this is one litmus test of a functional Christian church – how would, how do, the members including leaders react to one of themselves being ‘martyred’ by political correctness for his clear unambiguous adherence to unpopular/ ‘evil’ church doctrine. Is the instinct to shun ‘bad publicity’ for the institution or to leap to assist and form a spear bristling shield wall?

    Would church members rally-round, provide psychological support – would they raise money among themselves to physically sustain a member who lost his liveihood as a consequence of SJW persecution? Would senior leaders of the church get on the phone or visit ASAP to pledge their support?

    What a difference that makes! That is certainly what ought to happen in such situations – the ‘hero’/ scapegoat would then know that the people *who mattered* were on his side. This is surely what churches should be doing for their members in these times (and some certainly are): so each Christian knows that it is *us* against the world, not just me against the world.

  4. Would church members rally-round, provide psychological support – would they raise money among themselves to physically sustain a member who lost his liveihood as a consequence of SJW persecution? Would senior leaders of the church get on the phone or visit ASAP to pledge their support?

    Excellent point. SJW’s main weapon is isolation of the target. This is why if you are being bullied on a point your conscience won’t bear, treat it the same way you would rape attempt: make as much public noise as possible.

  5. This was fascinating to read. I totally see it.

  6. The key theme underlying the analogy is social support.

  7. […] Bruce Charlton writes […]

  8. […] years ago, Bonald used the example of “Die Hard” to explain what this would be like.  “Die Hard” is the archetype for […]

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