Lennard, D, Too Old for This Shit?: On Ageing Tough Guys, Ageing, Popular Culture and Contemporary Feminism: Harleys and Hormones, Palgrave Macmillan, I Whelehan and J Gwynne (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 93-107. ISBN 978-1-137-37652-7 (2014) [Research Book Chapter]
Copyright 2014 Authors, editors, and Palgrave Macmillan
In the first decade of the 2000s the careers of a number of aging male action stars were reignited through the return of their most iconic characters, among them Bruce Willis’s John McClane in Die Hard 4.0 (2007) and Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). In his early 60s, Sylvester Stallone flexed for new installments in two iconic tough-guy franchises with Rocky Balboa (2006) and Rambo (2008). More recently Stallone regrouped with a brigade of yesteryear’s He-Men (including Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, and Mickey Rourke) in The Expendables (2010) and The Expendables 2 (2012). The proposed chapter positions the yearning for these aging male icons of action violence within the uncertainties of a post-9/11 cultural landscape in the United States. Susan Faludi (2008) has argued persuasively that the threat of terrorism in this decade served to radically dismiss other cultural priorities, especially those of feminism and its questioning of traditional gender roles. For Faludi, the construction of 9/11 as a form of "emasculation" led to a cultural romanticisation of traditional masculinities and the hero narratives that articulate them, as well as a general indifference to women in the mainstream media. In this context, these male action stars can be seen as resonant cultural symbols of stability, comfort and "authenticity"—their age adding to a paternalism romanticised by a US under threat.