January 10, 2009
30 Politically Incorrect Movie CharactersBy Ben-Peter Terpstra
Seek and ye shall find politically incorrect movie characters.
From working-class heroes to men in spider costumes, they do exist. Really.
1. Detective Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) in Dirty Harry. Why: Because sometimes the "politically correct" system is too political, and because vigilante justice always beats death in a gripping police thriller. So, yes, Harry stands up to liberal San Francisco's recidivist culture. "Well, do you, punk?"
2 & 3: The Clones (Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson) in The Island. Why: Because it takes two pro-life clones to expose the body party parts industry.
4. John McCain (Shawn Hatosy) in Faith of My Fathers. Why: If you survive Red Vietnamese beatings and Red Vietnamese meals, you certainly deserve respect.
5. Jack Moore (Richard Gere) in Red Corner. Why: An American capitalist in Red China finds himself at the mercy of the corrupt Chinese court system in a jail for a murder he didn't commit. What's not to like?
6. William Wallace (Mel Gibson) in Braveheart. Why: Scottish-Americans have the right to enjoy 13th-century Scottish warriors taking on effeminate Englishmen.
7. Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) in Spider-Man. Why: Spider-Man is just an all American guy, who happens to be the clean Dirty Harry of Superheroes. Oh, yes, and he adores his Bible-quoting aunt. Altogether now: "Ah..."
8. Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) in Saving Private Ryan. Why: Patriotism. Love of country. Respect for your fellow man. And, probably the first anti-appeasement film in history to receive both Best Picture and Best Director awards from the Los Angeles, Toronto and Broadcast Film Critics.
9. Charlotte Gray (Cate Blanchett) in Charlotte Gray. Why: Now, honestly, how many women are willing to (a) drop out of the sky and land in France; (b) save Jews; (c) fight appeasing frogs and (d) undermine Hitler's National Socialists? Okay, besides Australia's Nancy Wake. You go girlfriend.
10. Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) in Spartacus. Why: Because Stanley Kubrick's 1960s classic reminds me of a time, when Americans were free to talk about white and black slaves in the same sentence, man's eternal struggle against the state, and...okay, let's be honest, the gladiator fights are awesome dude.
11. King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) in 300. Why: Because, let's face it, this is one of the greatest post-9/11 movies, with groundbreaking visual statements, a comically camp Persian King (read: Iran), an anti-appeasement narrative (read: War on Terror), and...well, okay more great battle scenes (read: testosterone).
12. Einstein (Aidan McArdle) in Einstein's Big Idea. Why: This movie/documentary dramatizes how a radical thinker, Einstein, shook the "consensus" establishment. The message is clear: revolutionary science is not a show of hands, but an opportunity to build on the works of other freethinkers. McArdle is brilliant.
13. Miles (Paul Giamatti) in Sideways. Why: Because promiscuity is so stupid. How does a melancholic teacher, keep his sexually active friend out of trouble on a wine-tasting road trip through California's Central Coast? Well, he tries. (Look out for Sandra Oh's violent brick-throwing character in the peace t-shirt.)
14 & 15: Ben (Seth Rogen) and his unborn baby in Knocked Up. Why: Ultimately, this is a story about redemption. Ben, your chubby, single Jewish Canadian slacker, drinks too much, smokes weed, and...is going to be a daddy soon. But can an unborn baby make a man grow up? (Look out for the unborn star's life stages and the sharp jokes about Stephen Hawking.)
16. Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid) in In Good Company. Why: On the surface, this sounds like just another anti-capitalist movie. It isn't. In Good Company actually explores ageism in the workforce, and a working father's commitment to his family, with strong pro-life themes. Today's Starbuck's "yoof" culture is put on notice.
17. James Bond (Daniel Craig) in Quantum of Solace. Why: Our enemy, Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), works for the mysterious Quantum organization, Green Planet, a green front group. We witness him preaching about green destruction, and learn about his great land "gifts" to save the green planet. And, we laugh - or at least I do - when Greene praises his own good green works. So outrageous. So now. So Gore. And, yes, only the gun-loving 007 can take on this green nut.
18. Queen Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett) in Elizabeth. Why: Never underestimate the power of a Protestant redhead, or a fine Australian actress. Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen lives. Spain, your time is up. Enter the Golden Age. Curtain.
19. Martin Luther (Joseph Fiennes) in Luther. Why: I can think of 95 reasons. Again, this is an anti-consensus movie. Moreover, Martin Luther really knew how to put the protest into Protestant, and the reform in Europe's Reformation. Today is all about carbon credit scams, but yesterday was about indulgences. Take note.
20. Jesus (James Caviezel) in The Passion of the Christ. Why: I hate to topple Frank Rich's theory. No, I didn't instigate a pogrom after watching this movie in London. But, I probably said, "Isn't it great that God sent a Jew to save us?" Honestly. How many Londoners participated in pogroms after the premiere?
21. C.S. Lewis (Anthony Hopkins) in Shadowlands. Why: Because Richard Attenborough's film introduces us to an unparalleled story of sacrifice. We don't just meet C.S. Lewis, the author, we learn about C.S. Lewis the unapologetic Christian and one gentleman's unflinching love for Joy Gresham, a Jewish-American.
22. The Passengers of United 93 (Forty Actors) in United 93. Why: Because 9/11 - for many - was an international alarm clock. The DVD states: "As on-ground military and civilian teams scrambled to make sense of the unfolding events, forty people sat down as strangers found the courage to stand up as one" against Islamofascism. Well put. In this movie, forty actors become one.
23. The Passengers of Untied 93 (Forty Actors) in Flight 93. Why: Because sometimes we need two reminders.
24. Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) in 24: Redemption. Why: Finally, Jack Bauer is tapping into his inner Sean Hannity again. You'll see him working with a missionary in Africa. You'll see Africans killing Africans. And, you'll see how the United Nations corrupts the continent. This is thought-provoking stuff people.
25. Homer Hickam (Jake Gyllenhaal) in October Sky*. Why: Because Red Russia's launch of the Sputnik satellite was no laughing matter. This is based on a true story. Enter: Homer, the patriotic student and his penchant for rockery. Liberals can sniff at his West Virginian family's prayers, and union-bashing dad, but even they'll concede that it takes some guts for a young Southern man to take on Red Moscow's scientists. (Oh, and look out for the union thug who bashes up his stepson.)
26. Swoff (Jake Gyllenhaal) in Jarhead. Why: Not the anti-war sermon liberals were expecting. In fact, Swofford, a Marine Sniper in Gulf War I, is a likeable, albeit imperfect character, with penchant for pranks and he's really in love with his gun. I mean, really in love with his gun. He's a walking NRA advertisement.
27. Frodo (Elijah Wood) in The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King. Why: Well, there are too many politically incorrect traits for me to list here. Even Frodo's language is coated in Christian spirituality. (Want to learn more? For my fellow Nano iPod geeks, I recommend downloading the University of Oxford's free "Tolkien and Languages: Ancient and Invented" lecture.)
28. O'Neill (Ryan Phillippe) in Breach. Why: Espionage. Yes, there were hundreds of Soviet spies infiltrating key government positions across the United States, and they weren't all flushed out. In the post-McCarthy period, O'Neill is assigned to track "conservative" FBI agent Robert Hanssen, a closet Red, and his private shenanigans. But is there more to the story? Are Hanssen's funny anti-Hillary jokes, nice suits, churchgoing ways, and the like, too good to be true? History speaks.
29. Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) in Schindler's List. Why: This masterpiece adapted from Australia's Thomas Keneally's book, brings us back to Hitler's Europe. It's a film about one Catholic war profiteer's struggle to save more than 1,000 Jews, and if Iran's Hamas doesn't like it, then send me the group therapy bill.
30. The Bushman (N!Xau) in The Gods Must Be Crazy. Why: Is the African bushman crazy for thinking that the gods dropped a Coke® bottle from above? Or, are the insane African terrorists around him?
*Corrected title, thanks to readers.