Exploiting the Archives: Steven Seagal Edition
If you’re anything like me, and you almost invariably are—I’ve been told my personality is very common, if not downright ubiquitous—you’ve spent two giddy, crazy days and nights drinking in the insanity of Steven Seagal and Tom Morrissey’s super-racist, anti-Obama, Alt Right conspiracy thriller The Way of the Wolves: the Deep State and the Hijacking of America for your Nathan Rabin’s Literature Society column on your website, Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place.
I gotta admit: while I appreciate our similarities, honestly having a website called Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place and also a column called Nathan Rabin’s Literature is kind of my thing, so I wish you would choose a different name for your website and column? How about The Lenny Letter? I’m pretty sure that’s not taken.
Reading The Way of the Shadow Wolves felt like the unexpected climax to the considerable amount of time I’ve spent over the past few months exploring the world of 1980s and early 1990s action extravaganza through my ongoing series on the big Cannon box set. Yes, I’ve been mainlining action cinema from the muscle-bound, rage-filled, high-kicking likes of Chuck Norris, Dolph Lundgren, Sylvester “Frank’s Brother” Stallone and of course Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Watching these movies in rapid succession underscored the fundamentally Conservative and reactionary nature of action movies, both in the 1980s and today. It doesn’t seem at all coincidental that pretty much all of our famous action heroes are Conservative. About the best action-loving lefties like myself can hope for are moderate Republicans like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dwayne Johnson, although if Johnson ever comes out in favor of Trump, I’ll be shattered.
The ideology of action movies are fundamentally Conservative and reactionary: they’re all about good guys killing bad guys, Law & Order and casual and not so casual racism, sexism and xenophobia. That’s certainly true of the action cinema of Steven Seagal but he made his directorial debut with a very different kind of political action movie, On Deadly Ground, which I covered for a very special My World of Flops.
On Deadly Ground reflected the clumsy Environmental side of Seagal’s politics, most notably in a notorious scene where he pulls a Tyler Perry and straight up spends the end of the film delivering an endless monologue conveying the movie’s message, which I vaguely remember as being pro-Earth or some such bullshit.
I also wrote about a much later, much sadder and much more desperate late-period vehicle for Seagal in Urban Justice, a hilariously racist and incompetent direct-to-video thriller pairing Seagal with a similarly past-his-prime Eddie Griffin. That movie was way too fun to write about and make fun of, so I implore you to read my article on it. It’s a good one!
All this writing about how terrible Steven Seagal is makes me want to write about him even more so don’t be surprised if this does not represent the last piece I will be writing about the crazed pony-tail and Putin enthusiast.
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