With the right lens, I can reinterpret the world

I just stumbled across Making fists with your toes: Towards a feminist analysis of Die Hard. I am amused.

It gives me life when a certain sector of thin-skinned Nazis get sad about films I like. From Fury Road to Star Wars, their tears bring me joy. Since, like many other people, my favourite Christmas film is Die Hard, it is my intention to highlight how this film is in fact a celebration of femininity, and perhaps one could even call it feminist, for a rather Eighties value of feminism. Am I trolling? I don’t even know any more.

I don’t care if she is trolling. It’s an entertaining exercise to take a classic 1980s macho action movie, flip it over on its belly to get a completely different perspective, and then make penetrating reinterpretations of of its tropes, over and over again, until John McClane squeals and confesses to his inner femininity. I think it strains too hard and is a bit forced in places, but realistically, you’re not going to get Bruce Willis to surrender by being gentle with him.

Now I need a similar analysis of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies. That stuff is fraught, and Bay has … issues.


  1. Jeremy Shaffer says

    Now I need a similar analysis of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies. That stuff is fraught, and Bay has … issues.

    Lindsey Ellis has you covered. Look up her “The Whole Plate” series on YouTube. It isn’t strictly feminist, more film theory in general, but it’s an analysis on Bay using the Transformers series of movies.

  2. says

    Wow, I think my brain just exploded. I expect it was written tounge-in-cheek, but she’s not wrong. It’s a brilliant piece of observation from a completely different POV.

  3. Derek Vandivere says

    I recall the late 80s as a time of drumming circles and men getting in touch with their feminine side. I could well believe that it was a conscious choice, at least from the writers.

  4. says

    Before reading the link: All I know is that for an era where Arnie and Sly were facing hundreds of enemies without getting a scratch, Die Hard was a revelation. It was what action movies could be. Not only was this when Bruce Willis still cared, it does away with so much of the toxic masculinity that was prevalent in movies at the time (and those still mired in it suffer because of it). Not perfectly, but it’s willing to show us a hero who is hurt and scared.

    After reading the link: I like this analysis. I may disagree with some parts of it, but in the end Die Hard is a damned good movie that aged well.

    Not so much the franchise. As Willis seems to stop caring (except for in an occasional role here and there), McClane becomes more and more of an unstoppable superman. He may still get banged up but you stop feeling that he thinks he may die.

  5. says

    Jeremy Schaffer @1: Seconded in recommending Lindsay Ellis’s “The Whole Plate”. It has a playlist here. Episode 7 is particularly good where she demonstrates that so contemptuous is Bay of his own audience that just about every male character in the series is an unlikeable grotesque and the “eye candy” played by Megan Fox is the only one that shows any kind of development arc…

  6. brett says

    I really like that the movie never makes Holly out to be a bad person because she’s a working executive in addition to being a mother. Sure, there’s the whole “Holly McClane” bit at the end, but that’s after a whole movie where the other sympathetic characters basically tell McClane that he should have moved out to LA with her when she got the great job (and even he admits that he was in the wrong with her).

  7. logicalcat says

    Damn, others beat me too it. Thats what I get for not reading the thread.

  8. ck, the Irate Lump says

    I’ve got to repeat the recommendation for Lindsay Ellis. Her style and presentation has significantly improved from when she was making “Nostalgia Chick” videos.

  9. says

    I’m sure the line about it being a Christmas movie is part of the trolling not trolling thing but given that it is a common belief/position among people I have to say if you consider Die Hard a Christmas movie all you are really saying is you think it is a very shitty film. It utterly fails as a Christmas film.

  10. methuseus says

    I must be the only person who grew up during the 80’s who has never ever seen Die Hard. Maybe I need to watch it at some point. It’s really sort of funny because I absolutely love Alan Rickman as an actor, and I believe Die Hard was his serious acting debut.

  11. Derek Vandivere says

    #14 / methuseus: Out of curiosity, I checked IMDB. He’d been on Broadway the year before in Dangerous Liaisons, but that was indeed his first film.