The recent hit Haywire with Gina Carano is putting the spotlight on actors who do their own fighting and stunts, but there seems to be a viewpoint that audiences are somehow responsible for the diminished quality in our action genre. An article on the subject has this to say:
7. Audiences: Free your mind – Audiences themselves bear some of the responsibility for what they get to see. Don’t just demand the same actors in every action movie. Open your minds to performers from other realms too. That’s what real MMA fighter Gina Carano says. “I don’t want to take anything away from actors,” Carano said. “I don’t think just anybody can do it. I believe if you like watching an actor, a singer, a fighter, usually for me it’s because [of] a creative thing, an artful thing is coming out of them. I think if people start relaxing and letting people creatively express themselves more in different areas, I think we’re going to see more mixed martial artists, we’ll see more crossover. People have to be willing to let go of that in their head because an athlete is somebody that people get emotionally attached to for who they are and then you see them playing a character and that’s not them. As fans of the people we like to watch, we have to learn to let them go and let them creatively express themselves in whatever avenue they want to. I think that’s going to be a huge movement.”
There’s a word for this: elitism. Elitism in this form demands the audience suppress its human desire for entertainment, the desire that creates the action genre, so that it can respond to some higher calling. We could also define it by its historical term, “Puritanism”, only in its 21st Century form divorced from all theology yet still attached to an anti-masses mentality. Like a preacher who asks his congregation to absolve themselves of all earthly wants, film elites continually demand audiences take advice from cultural professionals like journalists and academics. In this case, it’s so the audience can make the right decisions about martial arts actors, even if these folks, talented as they are in the ring, are stiff as boards and will take on any script tossed their way. Open my mind, you say? Not if that stuff is going inside it.
Like I’ve said in my Action Kickback model, story comes first. Once we have that, then we worry about the genre, the “martial arts” part. Don’t put pressure on the audience just so you can be lazy and neglect that first step. If you just wanna do martial arts for a living, the ring is where to be.