A few weeks back I bought this wristband.
You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s nothing more than a hollow pop-culture reference, a bit of shallow and insignificant fun. But there are three reasons this line from John McTiernan’s 1988 Die Hard works so well as a motto or a (pun alert!) ...call to arms.
Here we go.
The Outsider. Firstly, it’s John McClane’s line, right? And McClane is everyone’s favourite maverick-New-York-cop-on-an-ill-advised-Los-Angeles-stop-over. While coke-snorting white-collar corporate America parties on the 30th floor of Nakatomi Plaza, elevated above the working lives of the less fortunate like carefree Gods on Olympus, out-of-towner McClane arrives on the ground floor, a determinedly ordinary cop in a place he doesn’t belong. Dammit, the dude’s so friendless even his wife has denied his name. The twelve bad guys – his judge and jury – are also classy fellas; their leader Hans Gruber swaps chit-chat about Saville row suits with Mr Nakatomi in his plush office before offing him. McClane, by contrast, moves most freely through service tunnels and vents; a bro clearly most comfortable below-stairs.
The Man of Modest Means. In contrast to the generous luxury of the plaza building, McClane is hopelessly ill-equipped to achieve anything. He begins his mission lacking almost every advantage others have over him. His clothing is reminiscent of a shiftless vagrant; he suffers bare feet throughout the movie – he can’t even scavenge trainers from the dudes he kills – wears a filthy vest, forages makeshift tools and props, and writes the line in question, awkwardly, left-handed, using lipstick. All he seems to own is a zippo. The guy is the very definition of under-resourced.
The Parvenu. Having risen suddenly in rank, any upstart worth their salt mocks the growing discomfort of their former oppressors, right? As McClane begins to stubbornly tip the odds in his favour, his premature celebration of unexpected progress – Now I Have a Machine Gun Ho Ho Ho – works like some sort of declaration of imminent revolution. Remember that zippo? The guy’s like Prometheus! He’s got the fire(power) and he’s gonna use it!
So it’s my liberation wristband, y’all. Rise up.