Who's whipping up all that anti-government hatred?

According to a post Glenn linked, a study of action movie villains from the 1980s to today revealed that the most frequent and persistent overall characteristic of Hollywood bad guys is that they work for the government:

I tracked ten of the best-loved action stars over the past 30 years: Clint Eastwood, Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis, Steven Seagal, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, Mel Gibson and James Bond (he may not be real, but he's definitely an action hero). I looked into each of their films (most of which I have not seen) and deciphered the villains' ethnicities/races/affiliations. (I hope I did this all correctly but in some of the lesser-known films it was hard to tell so let me know if you find errors!) I discarded categories with only one or two entries: deranged wives ("Presumed Innocent"), clones ("Blade Runner"), the IRA ("The Devil's Own") and split the rest into ten categories: African-Americans (light green on the graphs below), Nazis/Germans (purple), Russians (light orange), Middle Easterners (red), American military/government/law enforcement (dark blue), the mob/organized crime (brown), South/Central Americans (dark orange), North-East Asians (dark green), non-governmental white guys (light blue), and American companies (yellow). I should also note that I tried to get to the root villain--not just the people causing damage. So in Bond films I didn't count the henchmen and "The Jackal" went red as the men who hired Bruce Willis were Middle Eastern.

As you can see the overall winner of the villain tally is American military/government/law enforcement.  Our own protectors even beat out the Russians in the 80s! We are a country that distrusts government innately and that has translated to film. It's also just fun when the bad guy is the NSA director or a dirty cop because that adds another level of paranoia and danger from within. The interesting thing is that by 2000, Middle Easterners have fallen off the chart completely (as have Nazis, but what do you expect). 

 (Emphasis added.)

So if we are a country that distrusts government innately and that is reflected in Hollywood films over the decades, then what's with the attempt to blame the Tea Party?

posted by Eric on 01.20.11 at 12:04 AM


Did you notice that after 9/11, Muslims as the bad guys disappeared?
I guess we Americans in flyover country would get too worked up if they had Muslim bad guys, exacerbating the already huge backlash against Muslims that's pretty much just in the leftists' "minds".

I do have one quibble. He used Hudson Hawk and said it was an American corporation.

I figured they were an international corporation. While Sandra is American, I think her husband is a Brit and at no time were they in America in the movie.

Veeshir   ·  January 20, 2011 10:07 AM

I think that Muslims and Nazis dropped off at the same time because it became too awkwardly obvious how similar they are.

Phelps   ·  January 20, 2011 12:04 PM

So if we are a country that distrusts government innately and that is reflected in Hollywood films over the decades, then what's with the attempt to blame the Tea Party?

Well, see, ummmm... look out! It's SARAH PALIN!!1!1!!eleventy!!1!

Steve Skubinna   ·  January 20, 2011 9:09 PM

Post a comment

April 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30


Search the Site


Classics To Go

Classical Values PDA Link


Recent Entries


Site Credits