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Dangerous game

What it takes to fight a bully

By DAN JONES / VN STAFF WRITER
On March 28, 2017

Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” is a story about a man who hunts people on a remote island. There are the hunters and the hunted. After reading such a story, you should tap into that thing called a conscience or repugnance – something that stops you from wanting to ruthlessly hurt others.

Has the moral of this story altered since its original publication (1924)?

I recently saw a double feature, “Fist Fight” and “John Wick: Chapter 2.”

I have come across this theme before, where one has to have the courage to stand up for oneself.

But is that the current message? Is there something more damaging at stake?

Lately, it seems that we are not attempting to knock bullies down to size but are rising to their level. Or is it that we are accepting the idea of being brought down to their level?

Up, down, I’m not sure on the physics of the violence, but the gravity of the situation is dangerous and everywhere.

Some movies get it right.

“Daddy’s Home,” for one, does an excellent job of showing the difficulties of standing up for oneself vs. going too far.

Is throwing around the B-word during a moment of self-defense acceptable/necessary? No.

And this plays out perfectly in the film, where viewers are forced to look back at their initial reactions to the idea of how one (a child) stands up to bullies.

There have also been movies that unintentionally (if not subliminally) encourage violent behavior but do not promote merciless killing.

Characters like John Wick and Ip Man fight for love and a well-ordered community.

Wick’s tale is one of revenge, yes, but revenge from passion. From the Bible (an eye for an eye).

Jack Reacher and Jason Bourne also have principles, but theirs might not always mesh with society’s rules. Bourne’s a good guy who’s trained to kill (and feels burdened by such a skill), while Reacher’s an outlaw burdened by those trained to kill (the supposed “good guys”).

Even Dexter Morgan, a vigilante psychopath, kills the bad under the guise of a police department’s laminated badge.

These are not proud, boisterous men. They are afflicted. They are not role models.

I ask you, then, how did the characters of “The Wolf of Wall Street” become those someone aspires to be? (Trust me, I’ve heard multiple disturbing conversations.)

As you should know, these are not admirable people. They didn’t have prestige. They had money.

Also (some might not like this next question), how are the Fast and Furious folks likeable and not seen as sad, satirical fronts with low self-esteem?

Being a hardhearted, cool dude is so forced that a viewer may have a difficult time telling who the bad guys are – between the racers, the cops, the “real cops,” the “real racers,” etc. Apparently, the family’s going to be broken up again in the next installment.

There are other movies that display the tough-is-better principle more shamelessly than “Fist Fight” and “John Wick: Chapter 2.”

Watch for bullying the viewer to be bad in “The Accountant,” “Girl on the Train,” “The Guest,” “Hardcore Henry” and “King Jack.” (For the record, “Gone Girl” is a metaphor for marriage and goes deeper than the vengeance endorsed in “Girl on the Train.”)

Other movies may prove more difficult to pinpoint what is being promoted or who the bad guys are/aren’t (“Suicide Squad,” “Superman vs. Batman”).

Deadpool falls between the two categories of being passionate and merciless, for his intentions are like John Wick’s (until we reach the end and see he was strictly vain and ignorant).

My last example: Logan (aka Wolverine). He has good intentions, but the gore of his latest film almost trumps the appreciation of life. I say “almost,” because killing those who are all for creating “soulless” soldiers isn’t an exact contradiction of beliefs.

Just remember this: Life should be valued by the protagonist of a story. If it isn’t, then why care about his/her life? We won’t. And that’s a flaw in one’s character and another’s character development.

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