Every year, fans around the world celebrate the Best Christmas Movie Ever, Die Hard, which of course involves a gang of ‘terrorists’ attacking a Christmas party in an office building. We cheer as Bruce Willis, as John McClain, takes out the bad guys one by one in ever more unrealistic scenarios ending up with our hero walking out of the burning building, feet bloodied, supported by his now adoring wife.
I watched it for the first time in years as it came on TV the other night and noticed something I hadn’t remembered. Just when you think the excitement is over, the true climax of the film comes when the last surviving terrorist, inexplicably still alive after we see him strangled on a chain, staggers out of the building looking to kill McClain and avenge his brother’s death. As he lowers his machine gun at our helpless hero, we hear 5 quick shots, the terrorist falls, and the camera cuts to the barrel of a gun.
The gun is held by our other hero, the humble street cop Sergeant Powell, played by Reginald VelJohnson. Earlier in the film, we hear Powell tell McClain how he was haunted by killing a child waving a toy gun in a Tamir-Rice type incident, and now could no longer bring himself to fire his weapon. That’s right, the real victim wasn’t the child or his grieving parents, it was the poor cop who found himself relegated to a desk job because of one little mistake.
Now, the camera lingers heroically on the smoking gun barrel, then pulls back to reveal the amazed face of the policeman- it’s a Christmas miracle- he can kill again! The message of the film couldn’t be more clear: the true hero of the movie isn’t really McClain or Powell, it’s the gun, the gun that solves all of our problems.
One wonders how many policemen, solders, and ‘militia’ members grew up watching that film, and saw themselves in the hero’s role. Did Kyle Rittenhouse watch this film every Christmas, dreaming of the day when he could defend the world from looters, rioters and socialists? How many more people have to die in the name of our national mythology?