The Death of the American Action Hero

It has oft been remarked that the quintessential American art form is cinema, and perhaps more than any other genre of film, the quintessential American movie is the action film. 

Although following a ready made formula that has its roots in the earliest Indo-European epics, American action movies can be usefully divided into three stages that, in themselves, reflect the slow birth pangs of our own degenerate era. 

The first era of action films include the great John Ford Westerns of the 1930s, 40s and 50s such as Stagecoach (1939), Rio Grande (1950), and, of course, Ford’s 1956 masterpiece, The Searchers. Each of these films (and many more from the era) serve as a celebration of historic White Anglo-Saxon Protestant America. They affirm the fundamental goodness of America and the American people and, although, with characters such as The Searchers’ Uncle Ethan, celebrating the rugged individual, nonetheless present a clear definition of America as a Northern European Christian country.

Ferocious Indians, wise cracking Mexicans, opium smoking Chinamen, and maybe even the occasional black guy were merely props on the side for comic relief or to lend a helping hand to the great work of building a liberal Protestant Utopia.  

Interestingly, it is also not uncommon in these films to have a Jewish or at least Jewish-presenting villain.

These films, especially from the 1960s are not without degeneracy, subversion and even subtle jabs at “whiteness” and Christianity, nonetheless were moralizing epics that celebrated America. 

The second wave of action films, which over lapped with the first generation of films in both themes and content but, at the same time, added increasing subversiveness included such films as the Clint Eastwood spaghetti Westerns, later John Wayne films such as The Cowboys (1972), as well as those of later action heroes such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and even a young Mel Gibson. 

These films, for the most part, depicted the American man as a tough guy loner who, as widower, sexual degenerate, or drug addict or alcoholic, has to overcome his personal demons while fighting off exterior enemies. 

These enemies increasingly became avatars of whiteness and, almost invariably, took the form of an American Southerner or Central European Hitleresque evil genius. 

Moreover, the America for whom this new later 20th century action hero fought was no longer the America of Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, and Henry Ford. 

A whole medley of black, brown, Asian, Jewish, and “transracial” characters were introduced as sidekicks, buddies, or even damsels in distress. 

Actors like Eddie Murphy fit the role of the hip and street wise black friend who helped the white guy save the day. 

Blonde bombshells were replaced by the sassy and (again) wise Latina who helped the white action hero shoot down communists, extra-terrestrials, and, of course, Nazi or Nazi-like villains.

Most importantly, the second generation hero fought for the sake of a tolerant, liberal, and multicultural world order.

Unlike his cinematic predecessors of the first generation of American actions hero, the hero of the 70s, 80s, and 90s was not fighting to carve out a living space for his people in a hostile and alien world, he was, unwittingly, destroying the civilization his ancestors had built all for the sake of “sticking it to the man.”  

While Arnold, Bruce, and a host of other heroes were slaughtering rednecks and Nazis, they were slowly being replaced by the hero who would become the third and most recent incarnation of what is now the post-American hero. 

Beginning with light skinned and perpetually smiling figures like Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, Will Smith, and Vin Diesel, slowly but surely the older American hero was told to hang up his hat and head out to retirement because a newer, sassier, and hipper hero of color was in town. 

Alternating with the strong (often at least partially Jewish) super educated, intelligent, and confident “white” Wonder Woman, the mocha colored action hero, like the generation before him, battled a galaxy of Hitlers and poor and working class white males to save the universe from the horrors of European Christian civilization. 

As vehicles for this cartoonish clown world version of the American action films such as the recent incarnations of the Terminator and Star Wars series have proven, these new woke films are wildly unpopular even with the multicultural audience for whom they are written. 

It is almost as though by their deconstructive and subversive nature, these new action films have collapsed under their own absurd and unnatural narratives. 

However, at the same time, as a host of internet commentators have suggested, most movies, even the classic, allegedly wholesome early films adored by Baby Boomers and those remaining members of the Silent Generation were, in fact, preparing us for the world in which we now live. 

In order to reclaim and rebuild our culture, we are going to have to a deeper and richer source than the twentieth century. 


  1. A well argued piece Mr. Burgundy. I strongly agree with your statement that “In order to reclaim and rebuild our culture, we are going to have to a deeper and richer source than the twentieth century”.
    On a side note, I am one of those commentators who view the John Wayne movies loved by my Boomer father’s generation as a consciously conceived tool to transition our society toward the left, as I argued last year in my blog *John Wayne, Social Justice Warrior?* His movie “The Searchers” was one of the less poisonous ones.

    • John Wayne is the Jewish conservative architype of looking masculine while always retreating and being a loner.

  2. Films like Bonnie and Clyde, Midnight Cowboy and Easy Rider introduced the “antihero” in the late 60s. Such films can be more interesting to watch than the ones which have conventional heroes. But they are also a reflection of the dark, cynical times in which they are made.

  3. Absent from the western movies was the jewish role in the old west. Prostitution, gambling, legalized drug dealing, debtors prisons, bizarre legalism in regional courts with no oversight… The west was a Rothbardian heaven.

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