Growing Up Addicted To Action
If it wasn’t rated R then we weren’t fucking watching it. If the VHS cover art didn’t promise at least two scenes with someone running away then finally pulled off the ground in a desperate and heroic leap by the force from a massive fiery explosion then we were skipping it. If the trailer didn’t have four swift kills each accompanied with a respective dead-pan one liner from the death dealing good guy you were wasting our time. If it didn’t star a musclebound, dead eyed, living action figure who despite possessing some indefinable tincture of charm had no business acting in a dinner theatre troupe let alone a major motion picture…then what was the point?
Me and my little brother wouldn’t just watch anything - I was 12 years old and he was 8 - we only could be bothered with the best. We wanted Arnold and preferably Arnold with a flat top (those films are just better), but would settle for a floppy haired Arnold murder-fest or even a majestically mulleted Stallone as long as he killed a bunch of guys and wore a bandana to distract from the haircut.
It was the early 90s and me and my brother had been raised by a series of disgruntled cops who now took the law into their own hands; by a succession of Vietnam vets who had returned from the war shattered, seeking only to restart a quiet civilian life but had to contend with a new war at home as well as the other war that had never truly left them;by a menagerie of muscular madmen who were the best of the best, lethal living weapons, who could only be pushed so far until they pushed back and got payback, avenged their dead partners, won back the hearts of their ex-wives, convinced a hostage they freed from a psycho or terrorist to have sex with them or even saved their kids. Our mom had a couple husbands and a few long-term boyfriends throughout these years but none of them were as consistent as this cavalcade of carnage bringers.
“Watching John with the machine, it was suddenly so clear. The Terminator would never stop. It would never leave him. It would never hurt him, never shout at him, or get drunk and hit him, or say it was too busy to spend time with him. It would always be there. And it would die to protect him. Of all the would-be fathers who came and went over the years, this thing, this machine was the only one that measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice.”
-Sarah Conner, Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Me and my brother grew up in the 80s and early 90s addicted to action. Aiding and enabling our addiction was our mother who was cool enough to let us watch R-rated movies as long as there was no titties. But man, were there titties.