Twenty-ten’s Cop Out is chock full of age old western mythology told through the same bunch of modern consumerist stereotypical figures: the loud Negro side-kick, the estranged hard-working dad, the well-positioned step-father, the wife who still loves the guy…and his defeat of some random enemy that somehow proves his love for his daughter. How many times have we seen this movie? Ever notice how little agency women have in these films- just pawns. Indeed, this could describe far too many Hollywood blockbusters that I have seen over the past 30 years. So why all the rehashing?
In Cop Out, we see some of the classic stereotypes play out, and here’s why it’s important to speak about race, because it provides a frame to look at how all characters are rendered abstract for the sake of art. But is it really abstract? Not really. These are noticeably thin stereotypes around gender, class AND race, so to pick out any one characteristic would be disingenuous. For example, the caricature of ‘working class white guy’ into which Bruce Willis seems to fit neatly, is always a dumb brute of a dead-beat dad. Further, we’re asked to sympathize with the sacrifices he makes on the job, so we romanticize daddy’s absence. But the explosions and gun shots too often distract viewers from seeing how ridiculously men are portrayed on screen. For example, in this flick, why wasn’t Willis’ man enough to accept the damn money from the rich freak! Is his ego really so grand as to need to ‘give’ away his daughter with his last penny, even if it kills him? Obviously so, since that ego forms the plot of most of his flicks.
And why are we still so tied to gender-roles that few seem to question giving away a young maiden? How can she attain any independence in her conjugal relationship if she has no respect from her own folks!?! Isn’t this really why Alice chose Wonderland? Moreover, (and interestingly, both in the case of Alice as well as Willis’ daughter in this skin flick), this had nothing to do with daddy love. Neither men had the child’s welfare in mind, and the mom seemed to go where the money rules; here, just like in Taken and hoards of other movies, she is effectively Oedipus’ mother Jocasta, a wealthy queen unable to make any real decisions for herself, including the welfare of her own kids. Isn’t that a classic feminine stereotype? This had everything to do with a dick fight, and the women and children were the prizes. Seen 2012? Seen Taken? Seen so many of these flicks, it’s critical.