every generation has an action hero that’s actually a villain
December 24, 2014 2:53 AM   Subscribe

El-P: What you have to understand is that Steven Seagal isn’t about being a good action hero. He’s always about being a complete fucking asshole. That’s, like, his duty. The thing about Out For Justice—also the first Steven Seagal movie where he’s just clearly getting fat, which I love because he didn’t wear sleeves the entire time, so he just had flabby arms and kind of a pot belly? The most classic shit about that movie was—and I actually wrote a piece of fan fiction about this.
Killer Mike and El-P off off hip-hop duo Run the Jewels discuss the enduring appeal of scumbag Steven Seagal. Somewhat sweary.
posted by MartinWisse (40 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
 
>I must admit that all of Steven Seagal’s movies have just melded into one big, horrible B-movie for me.

I get his point, but so much this.
posted by anti social order at 3:40 AM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


El-P: Screwface was amazing, even when he turned into a doll.
posted by dr_dank at 4:47 AM on December 24, 2014


Great article, thanks. I thought this was weirdly poignant:

I don’t think you understand my love of Seagal. It’s not in an admiration way. Like, I love the fact that when Seagal tries to do good it’s just him being brutal and a complete fucking asshole. I love the way that Seagal fails to be who he wants to be.
posted by slimepuppy at 5:43 AM on December 24, 2014 [9 favorites]


Like, I love the fact that when Seagal tries to do good it’s just him being brutal and a complete fucking asshole. I love the way that Seagal fails to be who he wants to be.

American foreign policy in a nutshell.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:48 AM on December 24, 2014 [19 favorites]


El-P: By the time he got to The Glimmer Man, he was just morbidly obese, and he was wearing a gold—

KM: I can’t believe they let you do this interview, man.
posted by Shepherd at 5:53 AM on December 24, 2014 [13 favorites]


My favorite Segal movie has to be On Deadly Ground, where he saves the Alaskan wilderness by blowing up an oil refinery set right in the middle of it. Because nothing says "I care about the environment" quite like a plume of hydrocarbon smoke, except maybe a small river of crude oil spilling across the tundra. Happy Earth Day, everybody!
posted by scalefree at 5:58 AM on December 24, 2014 [15 favorites]


El-P: The thing about Out For Justice—also the first Steven Seagal movie where he’s just clearly getting fat, which I love because he didn’t wear sleeves the entire time, so he just had flabby arms and kind of a pot belly? The most classic shit about that movie was—and I actually wrote a piece of fan fiction about this.

OMFG I love these guys so much
posted by dubitable at 6:16 AM on December 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


Steven Segal has done more for prepositions than anyone in Hollywood.
posted by Herodios at 6:22 AM on December 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


My favorite Segal film is Executive Decision because he's billed as the starring lead but dies in like the first 20 minutes
posted by hellojed at 6:39 AM on December 24, 2014 [13 favorites]


I also remember that knife/credit card because he uses it to (if I recall correctly) slit a man's throat. But the trick is that he does it before he's actually assaulted in any way. They threaten him but no one has even thrown a punch and he basically murders a guy.

Also, I never liked him as an action hero because he never, ever gets hit (or so rarely that it stood out to me). I always assumed it was an ego/'my aikido is too strong' thing and made him seem literally invinicible unlike John McClane who can take a beating.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:39 AM on December 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


I also remember that knife/credit card because he uses it to (if I recall correctly) slit a man's throat. But the trick is that he does it before he's actually assaulted in any way. They threaten him but no one has even thrown a punch and he basically murders a guy.

There's a clip in the article. And it's at least 3 dudes he kills in one swipe. Quite the thing, really.
posted by that's candlepin at 6:43 AM on December 24, 2014


I'm just going to jump in here and say that I'd never heard of RTJ until a week or two ago, when their album turned up on a couple of year-end-best-of lists. And now I've been listening to both of their albums pretty much constantly.

Steven Seagall, though...I don't even know.
posted by Ipsifendus at 7:08 AM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


I liked Under Seige and most of what he did before. Then either I matured or he went into a significant decline --I havnt watched anything he's done since.
posted by humanfont at 7:15 AM on December 24, 2014


Enjoy a few minutes of Steven Seagal breaking bones.

Also: Unbeknownst to many, in 1997 Seagal publicly announced that one of his Buddhist teachers, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, had accorded Seagal as a tulku, the reincarnation of a Buddhist Lama. This initial announcement was met with some disbelief until Penor Rinpoche himself gave a confirmation statement on Seagal's new title. - from Seagal's slightly unhinged IMDB profile.

("Unbeknownst" is a word that doesn't get used in enough press-releases)
posted by AndrewStephens at 7:15 AM on December 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


El-P's fan fiction about 'Sticks' got partially published. AV Club.
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:16 AM on December 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


My favorite thing about Seagal movies is the trend for him to move less and less as time goes on. The earlier movies look like normal action movie fights and they show some bits of him practicing at home, then as time goes on the bad guys start to just come to him and his movements just get shorter and shorter. The home aikido practice is replaced by Seagal meditating in a robe.

El-P talked about it a little: "I even followed him into his direct-to-DVD stage, where he was just obese and just stood still and often had people dub his lines—he would leave the production halfway through and just have people overdub his voice with a different actor."
posted by Peccable at 7:21 AM on December 24, 2014


KM: Yo, I was cheering for the Jamaicans that whole movie, bro. That whole movie, I wanted those Jamaicans to kill the fuck out of Steven Seagal.

I'm pretty sure everyone was. Screwface is one of the best movie villains ever.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 7:33 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you haven't already done so, RTJ has offered Run the Jewels and Run the Jewels 2 as free downloads. Why not reread the article while listening to some awesome free hip-hop? RTJ2 has been named release of the year by numerous media outlets.

Also, the AVClub should have El-P write a Primer on the films of Steven Seagal.
posted by Renoroc at 7:35 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


My favorite Segal film is Executive Decision because he's billed as the starring lead but dies in like the first 20 minutes

I took a friend to see this, pitching it as a Segal action movie, just to see his reaction when Segal gets killed off. That was an awesome movie.
posted by suetanvil at 7:35 AM on December 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


every generation has an action hero that’s actually a villain

Jack from 24.

Except that might be giving him too much credit.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 7:51 AM on December 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


By the end of a Bruce Willis movie, you know he's been in a fight.
posted by Repack Rider at 7:53 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I know I am in a small minority, but I think the post title vastly overrates the morality of lots of action heroes. When Liam Neeson casually murdered a prisoner with his improvised electric chair, I knew I didn't need to finish watching Taken. When Mighty Mouse chases down fleeing cats who have obviously learned their lesson and thrashes them some more, I feel sorry for the cats.

One of my worst Dungeons and Dragons experiences ever was when a new player decided to base his characterization of his halfling thief on Steven Segal's character from Under Siege. This article has helped me understand what went wrong in that game.
posted by Mad_Carew at 7:55 AM on December 24, 2014 [6 favorites]


So, my mom has two celebrity crushes : LL Cool J and... Steven Seagal. I shared this article with my brother, and this Christmas is already filled with laughter. Thank you for this gem, MartinWisse.
posted by Fig at 8:03 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]




When I was a kid I used to watch and rewatch Under Siege like obsessively, it was one of the few VHS tapes that was mine and mine alone, and there was shooting and explosions and Erika Eleniak.

Recently I caught it on cable and holy crap why is Gary Busey in drag this makes no sense
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:16 AM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


> My favorite Segal movie has to be On Deadly Ground

My favourite thing about On Deadly Ground - and I love everything about it - is Michael Caine's performance as the evil oil company CEO. It's probably the closest thing we'll ever get to a live-action Mr. Burns.

In terms of latter-day Seagal, I recommend Out For A Kill (which is every bit as amazing as this Ain't It Cool review makes it sound).
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:32 AM on December 24, 2014


One of my worst Dungeons and Dragons experiences ever was when a new player decided to base his characterization of his halfling thief on Steven Segal's character from Under Siege.

Now if you were to remake Under Siege and replace Steven Seagal's character with a halfling thief, then you've got something.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:36 AM on December 24, 2014 [7 favorites]


American foreign policy in a nutshell.

Holy fucking shit. America is Seagal, isn't it? Everyone has been sold on the US being an action hero, and receiving top billing, and being on the "right" side, but at the end of the day we're just sociopathic, psychotic, brutal, uncaring, egocentric and just an asshole on the world stage. Any good done is incidental, or a happy accident. And yet...you kind of like the character, and still generally think of them as a "good guy".

Wow, a Christmas miracle of my very own.
posted by maxwelton at 10:40 AM on December 24, 2014 [12 favorites]


In terms of latter-day Seagal, I recommend Out For A Kill (which is every bit as amazing as this Ain't It Cool review makes it sound).

I must see this movie:
Seagal plays Professor Robert Burns. No, not the brilliant art director of TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE and THE HILLS HAVE EYES. This Robert Burns is a professor of Chinese archaeology at Yale. Early in the movie he is given an award by the college and introduced as Yale's "most distinguished academician". (I wonder if he knows George Bush?) Soon we see him in China digging up ancient relics and explaining what they are to his lovely young asian assistant. When a thug disguised as a Beijing University archaeologist steps on an ancient relic and crushes it like a Dorito, Professor Burns just asks, "What's up with this guy?"

Well it turns out what's up is that several families of Chinese gangs have decided to unite to sit at an evil table in Paris and frame Professor Burns for drug smuggling. Before you know it they've murdered his assistant and he's captured by a Hong Kong cop and cynical american DEA agent who think he's guilty but let him go so he can lead them to the chinese gangs.

Things get even worse for Yale's most distinguished academician when he gets attacked at a restaraunt (why do thugs always flip over the tables before they start shooting?) and then at the assistant's funeral. Plus they kill his wife! What a bunch of assholes! So he goes to the assistant's dad and says, "The souls of our enemies will be ashes and dust gone in the sky before the funeral of our loved ones. That's a promise." And thus begins an international quest that will mean revenge for himself and joyous entertainment for hundreds of action movie fans all around the world. In other words, he goes OUT FOR A KILL.

Oh hi Steven, I didn't think I'd run into you. What are you up to? "Oh, you know, just out for a kill."
posted by mannequito at 12:05 PM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just saw RTJ in PHX a few weeks ago... those guys have such great chemistry together onstage -- they seem like they're thoroughly enjoying themselves.
posted by ph00dz at 12:18 PM on December 24, 2014


I was thoroughly enjoying this until I got to the "runs like a girl" part. This is why we can't have nice things :(
posted by Chrysalis at 5:50 PM on December 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Really? A hammer? That's cheating. And lazy.
posted by beowulf573 at 7:21 PM on December 24, 2014


The match I'd most like to see him in would be Steven Seagal vs. Ronda Rousey, but somehow I doubt he'd do it.
posted by homunculus at 9:02 PM on December 24, 2014


Belly Of The Beast is almost The Room of action movies. First : the name. SS is portly enough at this point to make it painfully ironic. Second, at one point he slides across the floor with an outstretched gun for approximately a kilometre. Third, everything else. Recommended.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:13 AM on December 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


Check out some footage of Seagal's blues band sometime. It is absolutely nuts. He stands on stage, and pretends to play guitar. There is another musician in the background that actually plays his parts. This review in the Guardian is an extraordinarily tongue-in-cheek account of a Steven Seagal blues band show.
posted by awfurby at 1:49 AM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


El-P's fan fiction about 'Sticks' got partially published.

Needs more clingfilm.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:20 AM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


His refusal to ever be hit by anyone for any reason makes his films just painfully awful. At one point, I talked myself into enjoying them, but I think I've managed to get past that. It doesn't help that both of the free movie channels I've got tend to show two or three of his movies a week. As for On Deadly Ground, the absurdity of blowing up the oil rig is classic, but my favorite is The Patriot, where a militia releases some bio weapon, and it turns out that the only cure is Native American medicine, namely a flower that, if you make tea from it, will cure the genetically engineered super virus. At the end of the movies, helicopters fly over the town, dumping flowers as a voice plays over the loudspeakers saying "gather the flowers and make tea from them, the tea will cure you" or some such nonsense.

You'd think bio weapons researchers would try to make a virus that wasn't easily cured by a readily available (and evidently bountiful) local flower.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:25 AM on December 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I can't read an article about musicians talking about Steven Seagal, without pimping my friends' band's (Droids Attack) kickass song "Steven Seagal"...
posted by symbioid at 10:07 AM on December 25, 2014


Like his hero Albert King, Seagal plays lead using a precise, presumably lethal thumb...
posted by gottabefunky at 9:57 PM on December 25, 2014


BEST ARTICLE OF 2014
posted by duffell at 8:42 AM on December 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


« Older Top Gun: "We", Sesame Street: "Love", Empire...   |   Ball don't lie (about cake) Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments