Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Mojo Money

Is it possible to see your reflection in Austin Powers’ rotten chompers? Where’s Sean Connery? Who are those girls? And how old is Robert Redford? Looks like this mystery calls for a man with some mojo. Yeah, baby!

In the late ’80s, Beta-Max machines and old James Bond rentals lined the shelves of mini-marts. Fathers wore out their favorite 007 tapes, causing wives to bleed from their eyes on a weekly basis. Meanwhile, little Johnny and Suzy were asked to leave the room, wondering if people really do put rocks in their drinks. Those were the days.

But then, in the mid ’90s, Hollywood realized that the James Bond movies weren’t the autobiographical retelling of Sean Connery’s life as a spy. He’s still pretty cool, though. But so is Pierce Brosnan … sort of. And thus, a new generation of spy films was born. And “Remington Steele” was canceled.

Those young dot-commers rolled in, sending the old Hollywood regime packing, Beta-Max machines included. These punks concluded the human race was made up of more than just 30-year-old guys. Spy films’ target audience began to grow, and it hasn’t stopped.

Today’s sexual liberation and wide-scale titillation were on display in 2000 when “Charlie’s Angels” hit the big screen. A weak plot gave way to girl power, resulting in packed theaters.

But the theaters weren’t full of our fathers or our fathers’ fathers. Women and teenage boys had their martinis shaken in a way they had never seen. Where was Cameron Diaz in the ’80s? And who knew Drew Barrymore could make Keanu Reeves look like a stiff?

McG, this spy film’s director, wasn’t an ex-CIA operative. Groomed by MTV, McG knew less was more, in terms of undergarments. We should expect even less the second time around, of undergarments and plot.

Then came 9/11. A shockwave surged through the American fabric. A serious tone settled in across the entire country. Even this writer, a starch liberal, began to wonder if we had enough intelligence.

For the first time in a generation, the general public recognized that the FBI and CIA weren’t misspelled state abbreviations. Americans worried about many new things. As the economy began its descent, an increase in ticket sales swept across the nation’s theatres. Instead of titillation, the spy genre soon served as an encyclopedia for post-9/11 curiosity.

Fearing sensitive U.S. audiences, Hollywood held back the immediate release of many films that may have been too relevant. Universal Studios was the first to budge, releasing “Spy Game,” a picture wrapped around Middle East tensions of the ’80s.

Arousal could have been “Spy Game’s” ace-up-the-sleeve, since the picture featured Brad Pitt and Robert Redford, but that wasn’t the case. Pitt’s hair was of the mullet family, and Redford’s wrinkles proved he and Dick Clark did not share the same plastic surgeon.

“Spy Game” exposed the necessity for a gray area in American ideals. Maybe it’s better to be the good bad guy than the bad good guy. A potential salt in the wound rose to the top of the box office. And where was the sex?

“Spy Game” was great, but the Academy Award season called for studios to be on their best behavior. Oscar prefers epics, dramas or film noirs, but he’s always had a problem with 007. When Oscar eventually went to bed, he moved aside for the summer of the spy.

Unfortunately, Hollywood considers 9/11 to be so “last year.” Been there, done that, so let’s bring in an indy director and fill the theatres with those 20-something hipsters. Doug Lyman (“Swingers”) teamed up with Matt Damon, which sounds a bit like female titillation. Hollywood tends to go in cycles.

Hey, maybe “Bourne Identity” is like “Spy Game?”

Not quite. A visually compelling film, “Bourne Identity” educated the American public no more. But audiences didn’t notice as they took “Bourne” to No. 1.

Groovy, baby, he came back. The name is Powers, and the game is groin and fart jokes. Oh, what we couldn’t laugh at last September made our bellies burst this July. Opening night saw everyone but Jerry Falwell attend the third installment of “Austin Powers.”

Is America really that vulgar? Is the sky blue? And does the sun rise in the east? Mike Myers should be writing this article. What he gives to younger audiences in crudeness is equaled only by his allusions to classic spy throwbacks and a peculiar English wit. What Peter Sellers did for the cinematic term “fact,” Myers has done for the spy spoof. Old people may be conservative, but give them the main character in an English accent and they forget about all those breasts. Or could old people be vulgar too? Hmmm.

Back to titillation … Cameron Diaz is busy, so let’s go with Vin Diesel. But Vin is a man’s man — so maybe that’s why “XXX” soared to the top of the box office a few weeks ago. Guys like spies, and chicks like flicks with guys who look like Vin Diesel. Who doesn’t want to play a game of I Spy right now?

So the redundant success of spy films has led to the latest upcoming release, “Die Another Day” — another Bond flick. Will it have the social relevance of “Spy Game?” Will it be as funny as “Austin Powers?” Or will it have some pretty good casting?

To the average Joe, James Bond is the man. But he’s also pretty cool in the eyes of Hollywood’s stars and starlets. Who wouldn’t want the thrill of being a CIA agent? And actors don’t have to risk their lives. Even better, audiences don’t have to risk much more than a few bucks.

In baseball, everyone wants to play for the Yankees. In Hollywood, everyone wants to be the next James Bond, but better. In reality, don’t be afraid to stop by that old mini-mart. Sean Connery is still pretty cool.

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