In Which I Say God Save Me, Because I Just Discovered Steve McQueen

Yes, yes, obviously I’ve heard of Steve McQueen.

It’s just that I’ve always assumed that he was some sort of fashion designer, like Marc Jacobs or Michael Kors.

And then Cars came out, and someone told me Lightning McQueen was named for him, because he was cool and loved to race cars. Okay. Filed him under “someone similar to Paul Newman” and that was it.

I wasn’t a big fan of American TV shows and movies when I was growing up. My parents were crazy for Shaw Brothers action flicks; eventually we rented nothing but Jackie Chan and Jet Li movies from the neighborhood betamax rental place. I graduated to Mark Gor and got far too enamored with triad films.

The only American actor I knew in my younger years — apart from my beloved Adam West and Burt Ward — was Charlton Heston, aka that dude who made television unwatchable during Holy Week.

[Quick story: Burt Ward was my first crush. The first one I can actually remember, I mean. For at least a year, I was convinced that Ringo Starr’s You’re Sixteen was our theme song. Eww, I know. Sorry. I was eight.]

I think I was in fifth grade already when I started paying attention to American TV and movies. I watched whatever my older cousins watched, like Star Trek (the one with Patrick Stewart, not Shatner). It wasn’t until Buffy the Vampire Slayer that I was really into it, though.

[Let’s keep the “I’m an idiot” theme alive, shall we? Second quick story: for a very long time I was convinced that Data from Star Trek was called Liberace. Like that’s his name, instead of Data. I have no idea why I believed this. And I didn’t find out about my mistake until I was 28 fucking years old. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.]

So it’s not like I ever had a chance to like Westerns, you know?

No one in my family was interested in cowboys. Chow Yun Fat’s Mark Gor was the gunslinger of my young life; why would I even need to watch foreign films to get my bang bang fix?

More importantly, my first brush with a Western was dismal. Horrifying. Traumatic.

I’m talking about Back to the Future 3.

I loved the first movie. I loved it so so so much. These days, I still stop to watch whenever I chance upon it on TV.

But that third movie? Ugh. No. Never.

And so it wrecked cowboys for me.

Until I watched Justified.

I refuse to shut up about this show, because no one I know offline has seen it and I am pissed and I want to talk to people about Boyd Crowder and Raylan Givens and how they should run away and just live happily ever after together. Preferably still shooting people from time to time, of course. (I also want to talk about Tim Gutterson, but that’s a different matter altogether. Hormones are involved.)

That said, I suppose I should mention Firefly first. I didn’t even realize it then, because I’m that dense. I was so focused on the futuristic/space age portion that I flat out didn’t think of the fact that Mal is a space cowboy. (And I’m a space cadet, as it turns out.)

It says that right on the tin, and I ignored it.

That’s when I decided that I actually like Westerns. I like the sassy heroes. I like the smarmy villains. I like the murky gray area of morality they all tread. Best of all, I like how they just shoot everything and everyone in sight. (Also, my favorite triad movie forever, Exiled, is pretty much a classic Western set in Macau.)

So I decided that it was time to rectify my mistakes. It was time for re-education.

I went on Netflix and watched The Magnificent Seven.

And that’s how it happened.

In the first few scenes of the movie I was like, okay, that’s the King and I guy. And then Steve McQueen comes onscreen and acts all sassy and cool and… well… maybe this gif does the explaining better:

Excited-Louise-Bobs-Burgers

[Note: I’ve seen Seven Samurai, but it’s not my favorite Kurosawa film. I like Ran best.]

I am so smitten with Steve McQueen that it’s threatening to derail my re-education. I was supposed to watch The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly next, but now I just want to look up all of his movies and watch him out-cool everyone.

My question now is rather odd: am I allowed to fangirl about a dead person? Is that acceptable? Is it not weird to be smitten with someone who is no longer alive?

I’m dead serious about this, guys.

(Heh, dead.)

(Sorry.)

In Which I Think About Testosterone

So maybe the title’s misleading.

Also, this is going to be a real ramble. Sorry in advance.

I was raised on a diet of action films — mostly kung-fu flicks starring Gordon Liu, then a bit later Jackie Chan and Jet Li. (I didn’t really appreciate Bruce Lee until I was in high school, I think.)

I grew up idolizing Chow Yun Fat’s tragic Mark Gor, and I still have a soft spot for triad films. Hell, I still have the complete collection of the Young and Dangerous movies I bought from some shady vendor in Mongkok.

I like mindless action movies. Who cares about plot, really?

All I want is a solid two hours of guns blasting and people kicking each other in the face. That’s it.

Now what I realized recently is that I like movies with terrible, terrible, terrible female characters.

And it makes me feel awful.

See, I like to think I’m above and beyond misogynist bullshit. Women are just as good as men — some even better. I don’t like this “battle of the sexes” drama.

I tend to think we’re all equally awful, no matter where you fall on the spectrum.

We’re all people, and we’re all bastards.

(When I was in elementary I hated how teachers would always pit “girls versus boys”, and the idiots who would lap that up. Like who the fuck told you the genders had to be opposed? What is the point? Why are you reinforcing this shit? And then other kids would be all “girls can trump boys because we’re smarter hurr hurr”. Whatever.)

So why do I like these movies when all the female characters are either cannon fodder or stupid love interests?

Hmm.

I think I found the answer after reading the first half of Preacher.

There are some things in the comic book series that made me go “well, fuck”, especially in how Jesse treats gun-toting homicidal maniac a.k.a. Tulip.

The girl is a fucking gun nut with badass aim, and he’s all “I don’t want you to get hurt”. Get a grip, man.

(Anyway, as it turns out, Garth Ennis does have a lot of character development up his sleeve so you have to hold your judgment till you get to the end. Don’t let questionable behavior on cowboy Jesse’s part drag you down.)

That said, it made me realize that I only like tosterone-packed movies/books/comics when the women are almost invisible. I don’t want them to have female characters front and center, because they remind me of real life gender inequality.

Girls can’t have fun.

Boys can get smashed, drive around, fuck around, and generally act like fuckwads and it would be fine.

Girls? You stay the fuck home and knit a sock.

When I was younger I never thought about gender differences. I was every bit as good and tough as the boys I knew.

My dad never handled me (or my sisters) with kid gloves. We didn’t get princess bullshit, like we’re supposed to be dainty and quiet because we were born with ovaries.

We played with whatever toys we wanted (and could afford): dolls and robots, stuffed animals and toy soldiers, knock-off legos and fake cookware. Nobody ever forced us to stick to Barbies. We could do whatever and it was fine as long as no one got hurt (decapitated Barbies don’t count).

We did what we wanted, spoke how we wanted, dressed how we wanted.

Nobody ever mentioned gender shit to me at home, and thank all the saints for that.

It was much later that I realized society had so many dumbfuck rules on how women should act, and by then it was too late to rewire myself. (LOL, no. I am not rewiring myself to fit society’s fucked up standards for the females of the world.)

This is how you sit, this is how you stand. You don’t get drunk. You don’t smoke. You don’t cuss.

Well fuck you and your rules, sweetheart.

So that’s why I find it incredibly off-putting when real life issues disrupt my two hours of brainless machismo to remind me that it’s exactly this same machismo that prevents women from enjoying life to the fullest.

And then, I realized, that the only way I can enjoy these macho action things is by turning my brain off. When gender issues crop up, I am thrown off and reminded of all the shit women have to put up with in real life.

I know where I stand on feminism, but I don’t want it to stand in the way of me enjoying all-out brawls on-screen.

That sounds awful, doesn’t it?

It’s not about showing female characters as physically badass. It’s about seeing women who are just as stoic and fearless, because that’s how I was raised and that’s the sort of character I would root for. (I understand this reveals my personal emotional shortcomings, but so be it.)

And now I have no idea how to end this ramble.