There’s a point in most action films when the geeky, soft-spoken protagonist (who has been pushed around, poked, and prodded the entire movie) finally rises up and becomes the hero. We’ve seen it a hundred times- from George McFly punching out Biff in Back to the Future, and Kurt Russel finally grabbing the gun and saving his wife in Breakdown; to Neo stopping a hail of bullets with his mind in The Matrix, or when the bat-shit crazy religious lady takes a cap to the dome in The Mist… or when Titus Pullo, condemned to die in the arena of Rome, raises his bloodied sword and screams “THIRTEEN!!” (In my opinion, one of the greatest moments in television history) Or perhaps you remember the most tear-jerking climax of all time when Daniel-San limped out of his corner, took the crane stance, and kicked Johnny square in the face?
My point being, in every truly epic finale, the bruised, broken, and bleeding hero shakes off the timidity of the past and reaches deep within to find that primordial strength we all believe we have buried away somewhere. It’s what we come to expect when the protagonist we’ve rooted for continually gets pushed around. In fact, it’s become a cultural icon in American storytelling. We’ve always had wise-cracking tough guys that save the day in a hail of bullets, but more recently the under-dog has become the action king.
Now should it seem strange that we’re expecting this from a President? Throughout the debt crisis I kept waiting for Obama to palm-strike John Boehner‘s nose into his brain and turn a gun on congress, forcing them to pass some legislation that would actually help save the country. I wanted to see him flip the desk in the oval office, rip open his suit-and-tie to reveal a yellow Enter the Dragon jumpsuit, smack Nancy Pelosi on the ass, and grab Michelle for a passionate kiss before stage-diving into an angry crowd of Tea Party-ers and smacking some American common sense into their thick skulls.
I honestly don’t think it’d be too hard to pull off. After all, we all know that if Obama can’t pull off a “Fuck Yeah!” moment in the next year, he’s headed out faster than Jimmy Carter in 1980… but, then again, maybe America doesn’t need a hero right now. Perhaps America’s First Black President is enough for Barack?
For the rest of us, the music is swelling, the conflict insurmountable, and the credits are only a year away… and me? Well I always root for the underdog.