action hero manhood

this article is copied from CBMW’s website here.

thought this was interesting… what do y’all think?

Considering Three Pictures of Manhood: James Bond, Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer

Steven Cavallaro
February 11, 2008

[Steve is a rabid Boston Red Sox fan, graduate of Reformed Theological
Seminary, Orlando, and long-time blogger; I hope you will be intrigued
by his consideration of three perspectives on manhood and especially
challenged by the last of his three questions. – David Kotter]

Their initials are all “JB”.  All three come from very different time periods but still captivate audiences today.  In an interview
regarding the last of the Bourne trilogy, Matt Damon didn’t have
anything nice to say about the first JB — Bond.  He called him
misogynist and imperialistic.  So I got to thinking.

I grew up watching James Bond movies.  I think the first one I saw in the theatre was Live and Let Die
over 30 years ago.  He was, as noted, a product of the Cold War and has
lots of Cold War cynicism.  He loves his country, loves sex and loves
dispatching bad guys.  He doesn’t quite fit Damon’s sensibilities.  I
don’t blame him — I don’t want to defend Bond’s womanizing ways. 
Austin Powers started as a playful nod to all that was Bond before
degenerating into ever-increasing crudity.

The Bond franchise got a much needed shot in the arm with Casino Royale
It sought to explain the man–his cynicism and womanizing.  I see it as
the inevitable and necessary hardening of his heart to cope with what
he has to do.  It doesn’t justify it–just explains it.  Bond is not a
virtuous man, but one who is defending his country.

read the Bourne books in the 80’s, and really enjoyed them.  Jason was
more a product of the 70’s with its suspicion of the government.  He’s
a typical anti-hero: an individualist who really only cares for
himself.  He’s not cynical, but paranoid.  He is faithful to a fault,
pining for the woman he loved.  Unlike Bond, he does not descend into
womanizing.  He does not protect our freedom, but pursues his own. 
He’s not looking for solutions, but answers.  He is the existential

there is Jack Bauer — a product of 9/11.  Unlike Bond, he does not
enjoy what he does.  Unlike Bourne, he does not fight for himself but
for his country.  He is a man of honor, who sacrifices himself for
others.  He is not suave, but often brutal.  That is because he knows
many thousands or even millions may die if he fails.  He is driven in a
way that Bourne cannot understand.

Three ‘heroes’ that have captivated audiences.  Three very different
men reflecting very different eras.  Three men driven by different
motives.  Three men who should cause us to ask questions about

1. What effect does what I do have on me?

2. What effect does what I do have on others?

3. Is it all about me, or am I willing to sacrifice for something greater?

Here is my perspective:  I enjoy the action found in (some) Bond
movies, and the Bourne movies.  But I’m stirred by Jack Bauer’s
self-sacrifice.  While Bond would retreat to booze and women, and
Bourne would seek safety, Bauer would try to save me even at the cost
of his life.  This is why Bauer beats them both, hands down.


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