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In our heroes we find something we that admire or wish we had in ourselves It is for this reason that it is easy to understand how popular action heroes can and almost must stand as a collective symbol of how we as a people want to be perceived If the collective values of the eighties were symbolized by the hard body as Susan Jeffords asserts in her 1994 article Hard Bodies Hollywood in the Reagan Era then surely the nineties can be represented by the sharp mind The Hollywood heroes of the Reagan era such as Bruce Willis in Die Hard overcame opposition through superior strength and stamina a direct result of their hard bodies On the contrary today we see our Hollywood heroes defeat tyranny through the use of their minds and a familiarity with technology This evolution in the way we view our heroes can be examined by comparing and contrasting three of the biggest actionadventure films of their days the 1988 film Die Hard the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day and the recent 1999 smash hit The Matrix In each subsequent film the success of the heroes relies less and less on his girth and increasingly on his intellect This is significant as it indicates a progression past the use of the body a rather obsolete symbol of self worth in the computer age and toward the mind to collectively symbolize our value and our hope for our future as a nationAs Jeffords asserts the Reagan era was a response to what many felt were years of bureaucracy and indecisive action under President Carter President Reagan on the other hand championed a smaller faster acting government person dedication and responsibility a war on drugs a return to family values which is often seen as an attack on feminism and female independence and a firm stance against our external enemies No character represents these values better than Die Hards own hard body and
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