The '80s are back - Sylvester Stallone has prepped another "Rambo" movie, Chuck Norris is an Internet icon and Mr. T is doing commercials. Alex Williams tackled the "trend" in the Sunday Styles section, "Tough Guys for Tough Times." Williams' story is a retread in its own way; the first sentence below in particular could have beenbeen found20 years ago in any college rag, pretentiously penned by an earnest liberal student straining for profundity.
"The leading action symbols of the Reagan era - with all their excess, jingoism and good vs. evil bombast - have returned, as outsize and obvious as they were in the decade of stonewash. Yet as stars of prime-time hits and feature films (not to mention Republican mascots), these actors are still as ripped and imposing as they were 20 years ago, and they continue to carry an undeniable authority with fans old and new."
Williams cracked on insecure conservative men, albeit in code ("likely not Hillary Clinton supporters"):
"But ["American Gladiator" producer Mark] Koops, speaking on Tuesday, New Hampshire primary day, said the appetite for these action figures represents more than a joke. Rather, it speaks to a sincere desire among some men - likely not Hillary Clinton supporters - to return to what he called 'a comfort zone' symbolized by heroic characters of yore.
"This is a moment in American history bedeviled by a sinking economy, the possibility of environmental catastrophe and violent conflicts in the Middle East and beyond. So it's not surprising to see men who were raised on cartoonish images of the fictional John Rambo taking out more Soviet soldiers in two hours than the Afghan mujahedeen did in a decade show an appetite for characters who tend to fix even big problems with room-clearing brawls, monosyllabic wisecracks and large-caliber firearms.
"Anxious Americans, after all, are suddenly very unsure of their position in the world, which leaves some open to any 'fantasy having to do with a sense of traditional masculinity,' said Judith Halberstam, a professor of English and gender studies at the University of Southern California. She said that these living G.I. Joes communicate a 'not-so-deep code of American exceptionalism,' as well as the American instinct to cut through obfuscation with plain talk and 'to not bother with politics, just go in with force and fix things.'"