Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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Preface

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pp. vii-xi

I saw my first white guy get his head blown offin 1982 during a cable TV showing of The Border. The guy runs Latinos over the border in Texas and profits from their deaths, but during a scrap with the hero he falls on his shotgun and ... blam! Later the hero shoots the tires from under a truck...

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1. Losing Ground at the Movies

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pp. 1-11

"Fuck that, fuck you, fuck that! Look at him. He's nothing. The guy's a piece of shit." Joe the piece of shit (and the Last Boy Scout) is a private eye, captive of a wealthy criminal, and object of a thug's abuse. Joe asks the latter, "You got a cigarette?" "Cigarette? Yeah, sure, I got a cigarette." "You got a light?" "Yeah, I got a light." But with the light comes a painful crack to Joe's jaw...

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2. Out in the Cold

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pp. 12-40

Having lost ground means that real men do work that is both devalued and difficult but vital to a sick world's survival. Cops may be all that stand between their communities and chaos, yet they have a hell of a hard time making their bosses respect them as valuable workers. This chapter first specifies the cop hero's status as "everyman," usually white and male. These heroes' problems begin in the corruption eating their world. Lovers and families, when cops have any, reject them at home for acting like insensitive louts...

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3. Back Home Again

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pp. 41-64

"Welcome to the party, Pal!" yells the hero, John, of Die Hard, as he sprays a coworker's cruiser with machine gunfire. The black cop has not been doing what John wants him to do and apparently must earn John's respect. Though John has already fired off a "Stevie Wonder" joke about the man's driving, and plays fast and loose with his physical safety...

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4. White Male Guilt

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pp. 65-102

Cops struggle with their anger toward demanding and intruding others, and then turn it back toward the most racist and misogynist of white men. The analytic literature often attributes to these movies a blindness to their own racial dynamics, as if its moral logic were not so logical after all, or at least not very self-aware (and perhaps only available to professional class academics)...

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5. Rage of the Oppressed

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pp. 103-122

Identification with the oppressed grows on heroes as they think about what's screwed up their world. Aligning with the downtrodden can help them make sense of the impotence they feel without propelling them into neo-nazi or misogynist rage. To rebuild the sidekick and family relations from which they draw sustenance, cops often admit...

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6. The Criminal Class

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pp. 123-149

The story thus far presents cops disrespected by a service economy open more to communication skills than to muscle, and by angry lovers who will leave if cops do not shape up. They are out of luck and nearly out of work. Sometimes they take the advice of sidekicks about relationships. Always they prove their value as protectors from deadly evil...

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7. Sodomy and Guts

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pp. 150-201

The story thus far presents cops disrespected by a service economy open more to communication skills than to muscle, and by angry lovers who will leave if cops do not shape up. They are out of luck and nearly out of work. Sometimes they take the advice of sidekicks about relationships. Always they prove their value as protectors from deadly evil...

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Conclusion: Good Guys?

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pp. 202-212

Cops feel forsaken by the supports they recall with nostalgia. Their children doubt them; their bosses, coworkers, and wives demand skills they do not have. Cops fess up to their paranoia to sidekicks, find criminals on whom to practice their one trade, and so regain as much ground as they can. They bond across their differences with sidekicks and then identifY with and don the rage of the oppressed...

Appendix: Using Movies

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pp. 213-250

Notes

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pp. 251-274

Index

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pp. 275-282