Friday, December 31, 2021

Die Hard/The Destroyer - Film

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Everyone loves Christmas. It is a time to be with family, appreciate friends, buy gifts for loved ones and, of course, watch one of the most important Christmas films of all time, Die Hard. Most people have missed some important features in this beloved holiday classic, and because I'm as high as funk on The Christmas Spirit it is the perfect moment to tell you these things, for the benefit of future generations.


"The Christmas Spirit" costs $150  an ounce, by the way.

Sure, there are other Christmas films to watch. Elf. Miracle on 34th Street. White Christmas. Black Christmas. Argyle Christmas (it's the Irish version of Black Christmas except the villain is a Red Cap), Scrooged. It's a Wonderful Life. So why is Die Hard also a Christmas film? Simple. It takes place near Christmas. The Nakotomi Plaza is having a Christmas party. When that one evil hacker finally opens the Nakotomi Plaza safe, Christmas music plays and he even says, "Merry Christmas." Bruce Willis, as McClane, defeats Snape with holiday wrapping paper. They even play that Christmas song by Run D.M.C.


Moving right along, Die Hard has some pretty amazing symbolism going on within the film, a hidden reference most don't know enough to appreciate, and a message for American feminists that isn't very nice at all. What am I talking about? Let's keep reading...but first, if you haven't watched Die Hard yet, please understand I am going to spoil the frack out of this movie. I'm also not even going to reiterate the plot, because that's boring for my average reader, who usually has above average intelligence and has seen this movie along with the other films and television shows I'm going to reference.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE VIETNAM WAR

I grew up surrounded by people who had been in the military during The Vietnam War. You are never going to understand how it fucked them up completely. Before 'Nam you could believe in the government. You could believe in corporations. You could believe in the CIA (ha ha ha just kidding after JFK nobody believed in the CIA).

What happened in Vietnam changed all that. People were angry. They had seen friends die. They had followed orders...and died. They had believed in the draft...and lost friends, family or died. You can see this absolute hatred for the power responsible for the loss of life during the Vietnam Conflict in the decades of film and television that followed. Not merely the government, but a combination of government and corporate forces called corporatism, which is just fascism with corporations in charge of the government. Just ask Nazi Germany.


Magnum P.I.

Most of the main characters of Magnum P.I. were in 'Nam. Magnum took on wealthy elite government influencers all the time. The Equalizer was about a man that avenged people who had been wronged by more powerful entities that were above the law like the government, corporations or organized crime. The A-Team fought these people all the time. Knight Rider did the same thing. So did Spencer for Hire. And Charlie's Angels. Just about every James Bond movie deals with this problem.


The Equalizer

Wherever an evil government official, evil foreign government (like the USSR), or corrupt businessman existed, some uniquely good person or group steps up to expose the wrong doers and punish the guilty...and the guilty usually weren't small time hoods robbing banks...they were banks, the military industrial complex, or just greedy, soulless murderers in business suits, making money from death, immune to prosecution because they were wealthy elite with government connections.

The bad guys in Die Hard are basically evil European businessmen with military training and hardware who are stealing a lot of money from a corporation. That's it. Sure, one of the FBI agents was in 'Nam, but you really don't have the same references as another famous American action movie. Snape and company are just pretending to be terrorists. They do, however, represent the greedy corporatists blue collar Americans hated for funding wars, influencing the government, and destroying their economy. They even sound like Nazis, or the same evil Swiss bankers that laundered their money.


Because yet another Lethal Weapon movie is being released, 
I guess he wasn't getting too old from this sh*t.

LETHAL WEAPON PARALLELS

Die Hard and Lethal Weapon have much in common. It's quite a list. Both films feature a black man and a white man working together to defeat the enemy while forming a friendship. Both films feature scenes with helicopters threatening the main character. The villains in both films are professional business types. They wear suits and obviously have military training. Each film has cops taking on well-connected elites. A car gets shot up by semiautomatic rifles in each film. Protagonists are stripped bare and tortured. One of the bank robbers in Die Hard even plays a torturer in Lethal Weapon.


If this man is in the film you are about to watch, 
you are about to watch an awesome film, my friend. 

There's an explosion at the end of each film. They both take place around Christmas. Both films feature two men fighting each other in unarmed combat, and in both films the bad guys are even blonde. It's as if somebody watched one movie, kept a checklist, and then threw the elements into the next film. However, Lethal Weapon has the unmitigated balls to mention Project Phoenix. Die Hard, however, doesn't reference The Vietnam War in such a direct way, although at one point an FBI agent mentions participating in the conflict. 

Project Phoenix was pretty fucked up. Basically, rogue elements of the CIA started to sell heroin in the USA by shipping bags of the stuff back overseas in the bodies of dead G.I.'s. This really happened and was pretty damn controversial. Even Marvel's comic book series, The 'Nam, ended up discussing the dark deed. Lethal Weapon wasn't the only film to do this.


The 'Nam

ABOVE THE LAW

Although it can be fairly said that his later films are unrealistic, pretentious and predictable, Above The Law is yet another example of a movie that is the shadow of 'Nam. In this movie Steven Seagal, as the main character, is a former CIA operative (or maybe asset, but definitely not an analyst like Jack Ryan used to be) who ends up quitting when he discovers Project Phoenix. Later on he also uncovers a plot by the CIA to kill a Senator who is messing up their business.

Like I said, a lot of films in the 70's and 80's were made by very angry people for people who were still very angry at their government, corporations and others for what happened in The Vietnam War. At the end Seagal basically beats up the CIA, corrupt government officials and criminal types...and he's basically taking revenge on corporatists and the military industrial complex...two major players responsible for the horrific tragedy that was 'Nam.

BLUE COLLAR AMERICA VS. THE FOURTH REICH

You see, what many don't know is that after World War II the Nazi elements of the Third Reich kept going. They had gold. They had connections. While many did end up dead or in jail, films and books featuring this surviving Nazi ideology and power structure still being a threat to us all were at one point very popular in American culture. 

Sure, Hitler ended up dead in ditch as a burning corpse (good, fuck 'em) but people like Hans Kammler (the Nazi that designed and oversaw the construction of concentration camps, as well as being in charge of their entire fleet of submarines) ended up with a lot of money, as did many other Nazis, and they invested in banks, corporations and pharmaceutical cartels in order to survive in the dark, long enough to take over with banking money, psychological propaganda and big business instead of military might. Politicians, journalists and military experts referred to this cabal as, "The Fourth Reich."

Of course, the Lethal Weapon bad guys are evil CIA selling heroin to poor American people, a conspiracy theory proposed by many whistleblowers and journalists. The Die Hard bad guys are bank robbers disguised as terrorists who are willing to do mass murder to make money. Regardless, they are surrogates for the very real, fourth Reich Nazis American's feared throughout the 70's, referenced in films such as The Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor, The Boys from Brazil and Marathon Man.

In Die Hard the good guy is a working class man, a police officer, taking on professionals in business suits whose power allows them to operate above the law. Their accents resemble the same Fourth Reich operatives in Marathon Man. The symbolism was there for a reason. It's always fun killing Nazis, neonazis, or the coldhearted bankers that foreclosed on your home right before Christmas.

WIFE ARGUMENT

As a happily married man that supports his wife moving up in the professional corporate business world, it is somewhat alarming to me that McClane starts out the movie upset at his wife for moving across the country to take a job at Nakatomi Plaza. She has the kids, too, and he doesn't like that they are all separated because of her ambition. They even argue about it, to the point of shouting, right before the robbers take over the building.

As an unprofessional family therapist with zero relevant education and no experience whatsoever, my humble observation is the McClane should chill out. His wife took the kids to the west coast. They live in a nice house. They even have a maid. Her job is in Los Angeles. That's where she has to be...there are really no other options. He's a New York City detective. He could easily move out to L.A. He could easily join LAPD. In fact, they'd be amazed to have him. Asking her to grab the kids and move back to New York City is selfish.

A character so important to the franchise she's gone by Die Hard III.

He should be relocating to join the family...after all, the money she will make as a business executive in a firm that has so much money they warrant technologically elite paramilitary bank robbers kicking in their door tells you she has a future, not him. What if he gets shot? How much does an NYC detective make, compared to what she's going to make? She can't move back to NYC. His argument makes no sense because his wife is right. The tragedy of this film is that he never admits that to himself, so no lesson is learned.

SHIVA

The art inside the Nakatomi Plaza are rather odd. The business is basically a Japanese zaibatsu. Why do they have Chinese and Hindu decorations? You'd expect katanas and samurai armor. Instead it's a conglomeration of Han era weaponry, various pieces of art from Asia, and a statue. A very, very important statue. So important in fact, that at one point it dominates the screen entirely.


In the scene McClane knows the Nakatomi plaza has been taken over by bad guys and is making his way through the place, scanning his surroundings. As the head bad guy, played by Alan Rickman, taunts him over the radio. When Rickman asks, "Who are you?" the camera drifts to a statue of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction. Not a coincidence. In fact, the statue appears at the precise middle of the film, 55 minutes and 15-20 seconds in, and it's the only thing you see, because McClane is completely out of the scene. It's just Shiva, the Destroyer, staring at you.


Study up on film, cinematography, symbolism and all that art. Directors don't just film things by accident and leave it all in randomly. Even on a subconscious level your mind sees everything, so good directors do their best to eliminate any imagery antithetical to their story. McClane doesn't answer, but the statue does. It's the answer to the audience. By the end of the film, we all know what happens to McClane's enemies, everything in the building and parking lot. Again, McClane doesn't answer Snape's question. The camera does.

THE DESTROYER

Have you ever watched the news and wanted a team of martial artists with near superpower levels of ability to step into the situation and just murder all the bad guys that deserve it, even though they are above the law like the big tech companies, multimedia conglomerates, and evil corporatist masters of the world you live in? Yeah, so did Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir so they created a book series about a Korean martial arts master assassin and his American student doing that. In The Destroyer, every episode was basically the annihilation of a sacred cow/societal evil by the two as they cracked jokes about doing so, leaving gallons of blood on the ground as they did.

Don't worry, they killed enough Nazis and neonazis to fill a cemetery.

The basic premise was that every novel, I mean, uh, paperback book, was an ultraviolent fantasy where Chiun (which is Hebrew, by the way, for Saturn/star/idol/king), a Korean master of Sinanju, the ultimate martial art, and his American trainee, Remo Williams, teamed up to destroy the Mafia, corrupt politicians, fascists, corporatists, terrorists and anyone else that had to get horrifically murdered for CURE, a super secret United States organization set up by JFK (before he died) to eliminate threats to the country that could not be dealt with by the usual legal, political or military means, or as Chiun sort of summarizes, "CURE is an organization that does not exist created by a President who is dead to protect a Bill of Rights and Constitution that does not work. All hail the wisdom of the west!"

While the upside was that every book dealt with a problem that really was something worth destroying, from terrorists to neonazis to insane genocidal scientists, the downside is that every episode of The Destroyer was really, really racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ethnocentric, problematic, patriarchal and even possibly funkadelic. The books were written in the late 70's and 80's, after the violent political demonstrations of the 60's, the government corruption, The Vietnam Conflict and everything else, so they reflected the popular opinions of the time. Unfortunately.

Remo Williams was a white cop from New York City, so he basically acted and sounded like a blue collar working class man who kind of didn't give a fuck about corrupt politicians, businessmen, sensitive people, feminists or anyone else. Of course, at one point Remo is so dedicated to being an assassin for Sinanju that he kind of doesn't care that he's even American. Being completely outside of the social structure of anyone he deals with, from comedians to actors to military personnel to cultists to congressmen, means he says what he wants to whoever he wants, making him the ultimate stand up comic as he delivers one liners that summed up his jaded, cynical, lower/middle class American mindset.

So while Remo occasionally tells feminists and minorities to go to Hell, it's Chiun who is really so problematic you will probably never see The Destroyer series on film or television. To him all people on Earth are useless subhumans except for Koreans, and even then only Koreans from his home village, Sinanju, are worth anything to him. Women are best reserved for staying home and having babies, preferably boys. He's basically Archie Bunker mixed with Pai Mei from Kill Bill and Kill Bill 2. He only trains Remo Willliams (who he occasionally refers to as, "A pale piece of pig's ear") because of his ego...if Chiun can train the dumbest, most uncoordinated animal on Earth (a white American man) to be a master of Sinanju, it will make Chiun the greatest Sinanju master ever since he turned a lump of dung into a diamond.

Like Remo, McClane is a cop from New York City. They are both blue collar white guys. Here is something interesting, though. Every once in a while Remo ends up in really deep mortal danger, so he goes into beast mode. He basically gets possessed by Shiva, the Hindu god of Destruction. There's even a speech he gives where Remo announces he's Shiva and proceeds to act and speak like the deity while he murders everyone around him that has it coming with even more horsepower and precision. Whether or not the statue I mentioned earlier in the Nakatomi is a reference to The Destroyer, it is obviously a reference to the absolute destruction McClane is about to unleash.

It's worth noting that later on in the series, the attitude Chiun has for Remo changes. He eventually decides Remo is like a son to him. Remo starts to call Chiun, "Little Grandfather." The two start out not liking each other. By the end they are family.

AVATARS

In Hinduism and Shinto an avatar is simply a human that is also a reservoir for Something Else, whether it is Shiva, Vishnu, Kali, Ameratsu, or otherwise. This can even be the spirit of an ancestor. This happens in horror films, when a person is possessed by a demon. Shinto calls these beings "akitsumikami," or, "incarnation of a god."

Avatars of gods happen all the time in the religions of the far east. Shiva has plenty, from Kereet, an archer that tested the bravery of Arjuna, to Krishna Darshan, an avatar the stressed the importance of yoga to humanity. Vishnu has several as well, from Krishna (some modern Hindus believe Jesus Christ was just an avatar of Krishna) to Narasimha, a half man, half tiger warrior who destroys those who persecute religion to Buddha, a religious icon one can find in Thailand, China and Japan.

Americans can understand avatars, though. The best superheroes seem to be them. Captain America is an avatar of the country. Spider-Man seems to be an avatar of spiders. Batman. Superman. Wonder Woman. Comic book villains are great when they are avatars, like Electro, who is the avatar of electricity. In Christianity, the antichrist is basically an avatar of Satan. Some of the most famous, influential people from history seem to embody a cause, nation or the times they lived in, which is why we love seeing films about them, from Nikolas Tesla to Malcom X.

I ditched high school to see this film on opening day,
 just like Spike Lee told me to.

That's not to say John McClane literally becomes Shiva, the Destroyer, when he looks at the statue. Nobody in the film says this, so it didn't happen. What's more important is that the director introduced the concept of Shiva, so this includes concepts such as spiritual possession and incarnation. Whether it's actually happening is meaningless, the symbolism tells our brains all we need to know.

NAKATOMI

Poor Joseph Takagi gets shot early on in the film. He's like a human sacrifice that gets the brawl rolling. His name means, "tall tree." Joseph, in Christianity, is the father of the avatar of God. The name Nakatomi is more interesting. In Japanese history the Nakatomi clan is synonymous with Shinto, since the family includes a lot of famous priests in their history and have close relations with the divine Emperor. There's also a lot of samurais. So Nakatomi isn't just a name, it's carefully selected to get us to think of spiritual combat, sohei (warrior monks), possession, avatars and destruction. Considering what the occult says about possession, it's easy to consider that part of the reason McClane does so well against his adversaries is because the spirit of the Nakatomi clan is with him.

PROBLEMATIC ANTIFEMINIST TRUTHS

While Die Hard is a film about one man taking on an army of elite, better educated, better equipped, better prepared and better dressed European bureaucrats, it's also a film about a man arguing with his wife about how she moved to the west coast with the kids and left him because she got a job at Nakatomi Plaza. They argue about this, and then they stop. There is no verbal resolution to this disagreement.

It would have been nice if McClane had just decided to swallow his pride and follow his wife. She's the primary breadwinner, so enjoy the toast, pal. He's a hero to LAPD, he already has a best friend on the force, he's famous, moving west would be the best. But nooo...there is no conversation that solves the issue. He doesn't concede to her point. There is zero compromise. Even if the hero of the film isn't right, by the end he is because of total destructive force, not logic.


"You know what honey, you're right! Go ahead and keep your job."

A HAPPY CONCLUSION OF TOTAL DESTRUCTION

When you summon a god of destruction like Shiva, you get results. By the end of the film it isn't just the bank robbers that are destroyed. Everything is destroyed. A helicopter. A police car. An armored vehicle. The Nakatomi Plaza. The parking lot. Their money and stocks. Many members of the LAPD and the FBI. Their CEO. Many cops. McClane's wife's job (Where is she going to work now? Her boss is dead, the corporation is annihilated, even their stocks and lost...and who in the business world would want to hire a person involved in such a controversial tragedy?). He didn't just win the argument, McClane (that is, The Destroyer) took out the very fundamental reason for the argument. He destroyed everything. The final shot of the film reinforces this fact.

May as well move back to New York City, New York, right?

The end.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Pyncher's New Single is a Hit - Music


PYNCHER!

If you peruse this website carefully, you'll notice that I have interviewed at least more than five very successful musicians/bands that have created timeless music, like Digitalism, Imagine Dragons, Bone-Thugs-n-Harmony, Mac Miller, Steve Aoki and others. So it has been said by wise elders in the industry that this writer understands what good music is. That's probably why, according to this website, I'm rich!


This website lies so bad that not only does it lack an ass, it's pants are very much on fire.

With this on the brain we ponder, why listen to Pyncher? Who are they? What do they want? How do they sound? Should we fear them? I was terrified of what would happen, if my ears didn't experience Pyncher. You just can't sit around in your house, all alone, listening to bands like The Misfits, Agent Orange, The Cramps, Black Flag, Dead Kennedy's, Sonic Youth, and Black Market Baby. It's demoralizing.


Pyncher, keeping it real.

One must experience either new music, or inevitable entropy. That's the truth. I knew a guy once that just listened to old Soundgarden albums until he morphed into a stained, slightly damaged Styrofoam litter bucket full of dented cans of Coors Lite beer. It was disconcerting. Personal evolution means answering your email to hear more mighty musical majesty, at least for me. New music helps us transcend old consciousness.


Pyncher rocks.

"Dirty Feet," a brand new single by Pyncher that they will release this Friday, reminds me of The Beatles. Woah! Calm down! What I mean is that the reason we keep listening to that band is because they had figured out a killer formula: each song The Beatles made is actually three songs. That was their secret. Pyncher utilizes that same power in their new, ferocious single that is an audio odyssey worthy of the ears of Oddyseus.

Like a fine film with three acts, "Dirty Feet" goes beyond the usual formula to tell a story. The song starts fast with a howl that could make Alan Ginsberg happy, introduces background feedback throbbing with sonic power, electrifies with drippy, surf-worthy guitar licks that would make Dick Dale cry, and suddenly stops to cruise across semi-familiar landscapes of fast audio adventure, only to transform again, evolving into a final crescendo worth 4 mintues and 23 seconds of your good time.


Pyncher is a solid rock band from Manchester in the United Kingdom, where Britain comes from. I had the honor of getting some words from the band about their new tour de force single. "I write the main foundation of each song," says Sam, who plays guitar and supplies vocals. "Harvey plays lead guitar, Jack plays drums, and Britt bass." Time and work went into this creation. "I wrote the riff in July and it sat there over the summer. Everything else I did just before we had a rehearsal."

"Then as we do with most of our songs, Harvey, Britt and Jack added their bits. I had the vocals done for the verse but the chorus was a matter of trying new things in rehearsal until I got what I wanted." This craftsmanship shows. Epic songs have layers hiding dimensions. "I started the lyrics with a story in mind, but I don't know what's happened to that. There's a story somewhere in the song. I'm not too sure about the meaning."


Music is personal, even for the listener. It's OK to hear a song and decide it's meaning is different for you than it is for others. Sam knows. "I like to write with ambiguity as I intend on people all having different ideas of what they could mean. More often than not, the music comes first and then I'll take lots of listens to the demo or recording before the lyrics are there."


"Dirty Feet" will please fans of Pyncher that have been looking forward to a new single which has everything we enjoy about the music they play. It's hard to earn the mad skills necessary to be damn good. Harder still to combine so much genius properly into one audio creation that features them all. "A couple of our songs are written around some lyrics I've got and that's always a bit harder for me, but fun." Sounds awesome to all of us. Play it again, Sam.

You can check out more of Pyncher's majestic music right here: https://soundcloud.com/user-952207358

"Dirty Feet" will not be released to the general pubic until Friday. The presave link is right here: https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/pyncher/dirty-feet

Follow Pyncher on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pyncherband/