Hello? Is anyone out there? *crickets*
It’s Boxing Day (the day after Christmas for those who don’t know, and a holiday I miss as a Canadian living in the States) – I hope those of you that celebrate Christmas had a wonderful day. But I also suspect that means very few people are out browsing the blogosphere, which is good, because my brain is mush! Between making dinner yesterday, having to work on Boxing Day, houseguests coming Friday, putting the house up for sale after they leave, and all without f**king up my back for the third time this year… I haven’t had much time for anything.
Although yesterday morning, hubby and I found time to watch a movie, quite possibly the best Christmas movie ever – Die Hard.
Why am I blogging about a movie that’s twenty-five years old? The movie is still awesome, but it’s hard not to notice a few things that mark the movie as clearly an eighties movie. John McClane gets to travel on a plane with a gun on his belt. John McClane is able to light up a cigarette inside the airport. Car phones – hahahaha! VHS – hahahaha! Teeny tiny computer screens in monochrome (I had one back in the day – it was orange. Yuck.)
I think the most significant part of the movie, though, is the isolation. Just like those cozy mysteries where everyone’s trapped in the manor because the bridge washed out, or a huge snowstorm means you’re trapped in a resort with a murderer, with no police help forthcoming. It’s excellent conflict for a story, and often gives one character the opportunity to be the unexpected hero.
Today, everyone would have cell phones, or more correctly, smartphones. McClane could have probably laid hands on a dozen of them (and tablets & laptops) if this were set today. Yes, Hans Gruber could have set up some sort of interference, but that adds yet another (possibly more difficult) dimension to the isolated hero story, a symptom of our advancing technology.
We’ve become so accustomed to our smartphone technology, coming up with viable communication alternatives, as McClane does when the phone lines are cut, might be difficult. Is it reasonable to assume a high-tech building would have a CB radio anywhere? Do people still know Morse code? Worse, if our unexpected hero were to use it, would the message even be recognized as a message? Would it be a simple matter to highjack the villains’ communication equipment and access the outside world, as McClane does?
Honestly, I think this story would have a different vibe, a different manner of isolation & and different modes of resolution, if set today. Which is only to be expected. But I do really like the isolated hero story, and if we go into the future with sci-fi, covering all the bases to ensure our unexpected heroes are isolated, at least for part of the story, is both easier and harder. After all, it’s pretty easy to strand some poor unsuspecting souls on a space station or spaceship or barely colonized planet. The kicker is almost always going to be communication, and whether that communication will get help to anyone in time.
Based on the assumption technology is only going to get more invasive and pervasive, a villain may have to work harder to cut off access to the outside world(s). That also means the hero will have to work harder to get an appropriate workaround. The equipment will likely become harder to fix and/or jury-rig for a non-specialist to use. Hell, it might even be impossible to access without surgical equipment (yes, I’m talking implants). That’s what makes it fun, though. In fact, I should have to write something like this soon. I’m inspired! No matter the era, isolating your hero (or heroine) with a bunch of baddies is going to lead to a great story.
But really, for the four of you reading this blog today, I bet the thing that’s really got your blood up is my assertion that Die Hard is the best Christmas movie. C’mon, lay it on me. What’s your favourite?