To the best of my recollection, James Bond doesn’t cry. No Schwarzenegger movie leaps to mind where the big guy breaks down. Maybe he tried to cry in Terminator 2, but that was only because he was a robot and wanted to experience emotion. I’ve never seen Steven Seagal shed tears, Vin Diesel weep, or Harrison Ford get verklempt. There are several things that an audience can expect from an action movie – things will be blown up, the villain will not be an accurate shot, and the men will not cry.
Perhaps this is why I was so surprised by Bruce Willis’ performance in “Hostage.” His voice quivers with fear, he has several quiet moments of self-doubt, and, most shockingly, he cries like a big baby in half a dozen scenes. This is almost balanced out when he saves two kids from a burning building and then guns down a room filled with armed men. Almost. Long after “Hostage” ended, I had forgotten the violence and only remembered Bruce’s emotional breakdowns. I really thought it was a brave and wonderful performance, and possibly a new direction for the modern action hero: the hero who isn’t afraid to show his sensitive side. He kicks ass because he cares so damn much.
Like Willis’ character, I too cried during “Hostage.” Something about the bravery of the characters got to me. This has been an alarming trend over the past few weeks. To my dismay, I’ve been crying at virtually every movie I see. Thanks to the fact that I have Korean cable TV, I watch a lot of random stuff. Whatever they put on the English language movie channel, I tune into. And thus I’ve had the chance to get emotional over the oddest things. In “The Guardian,” Kevin Costner’s character sacrifices himself to save Ashton Kutcher. I was a mess. Water poured from my eyes. ”The Haunted Mansion” with Eddie Murphy similarly broke me down. Yes, “The Haunted Mansion” made me cry. The end of “Step Up,” when the dumb boy is accepted into art school, made me sob. I don’t even want to talk about the disaster I turned into during “Coach Carter.” Most people find that to be a touching sports movie. I cried all the way through like it was “Schindler’s List.”
Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s a certain melancholy that comes with being alone and watching movies on Korean television. I don’t know. Company doesn’t stop me either. Cuddled up with a nice-looking female about a month ago, I cried at an episode of “House.” I tried to explain that they weren’t sad tears. Oh no, I’m crying because I’m happy for the characters and I admire their qualities. Maybe I’m going through a time in my life where I simply want to see people act nicely towards each other. The truth is, all of this crying is strangely bringing me joy, along with the embarrassment of having to have tissues handy every time I turn on the television.
Think of all the progress our society has made. We’ve seen child labor end, women get the right to vote, and a person with enormous ears elected as President of the USA. But we haven’t come to a point where a man can cry any damn time he feels like it. It’s the last great step in gender equality. I urge my fellow men to join this new wave of weeping. Right now it’s just Bruce Willis and me. If you look at us closely, you’ll see the pride on our tear marked faces.