‘Dad bods’ explained using ‘Bloodsport,’ Van Damme’s 1988 classic

Frank Dux Ray Jackson“Dad Bod” articles keep popping up all over the place, which apparently means that women are attracted to men with soft midsections. Due to the wide variety or responses these articles seem to be generating in mainstream newspapers, there is only one way to break it down so red-blooded American men everywhere can understand: I will draw from Jean Claude Van Damme’s 1988 classic, Bloodsport.

Bloodsport JCVDFirst we have the Frank Dux body. In 2015, anyone can be fat. Poor people in the United States are more likely to be fat than malnourished (note: Doritos and Ding Dongs are cheaper than guacamole). The chiseled male frame obviously telegraphs strength, but it also signals discipline, consistency, control, commitment and focus. The downside is that it can also be an indicator of vanity, narcissism, obsession and a variety of other negative traits.

Ray Jackson BloodsportNext we have Ray Jackson, the beer-swilling, Harley Davidson-loving tough guy who works hard and parties hard. He’s a small-time bad boy with a big heart. He’s tough. He’s manly. He’s rebellious and loyal — but he doesn’t count calories. In short, he’s a good time and a man you want around in bad situations. His negative qualities are that his carelessness and sloppiness can inadvertently get himself or others hurt.

Bloodsport Forest Whitaker At some point we come to the bodies of by men like Norman Burton and Forest Whitaker, who play the soft-bodied government officials sent to bring home Frank. Their “dad bods” are definitely not like Ray Jackson’s, although they still probably are what writers from The Washington Post imagine when try to describe the physique to readers.

These men care more about their careers than whether or not any muscle definition is visible when they go to the beach. They’re not obese, but they probably would get winded if they chased a guy like Frank Dux around Hong Kong. For the woman who wants to raise a family, the Whitaker-body might say “I’m non-threatening” or “I bring home more money because I’m not spending it on protein supplements.”

The bottom line is that most young men would be perfectly fine imaging themselves as either Frank Dux or Ray Jackson; they would not easily opt to play “Helmer” or “Rawlins” as portrayed by Messrs. Burton and Whitaker. Women, however, could be attracted to any of them, depending on what they were looking for in a man — emphasis on “man.”

BloodsportFinally, we have the possibility that some women are just like Janice Kent (Leah Ayres), the reporter whose motivations are not quite what they seem. Just like the woman who wants to get close to the fighters — all so she could take down the tournament that means so much to them — some women are probably “attracted” to “dad bods” because then they become the more attractive one in any relationship.

Many insecure women wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with a man sporting a Frank Dux-type body, if for no other reason than to fight off the perception that they are the less attractive mate. Beauty often brings power, and one way to wield power over a man is to be his physical superior.

As you can see, dear reader, the “dad bod” debate offers armchair psychologists, sociologists, gym rats, and cultural critics hours of material. It can also be as deep or as shallow as we want it to be (feel free to go either direction in the comments section, as long as you keep it clean).

In full disclosure, I must admit that I really only used the topic as an excuse to once again talk about Bloodsport, because it should be required viewing for all American boys — along with Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rocky IV, Predator, Terminator 2, and The Dark Knight.

If you have read this far, then congratulations: You likely grew up in the 1980s and are a healthy American male specimen who still has testosterone pumping through his veins (or a really cool woman). I salute you. No matter what body type you have, I think the key to attracting a good woman is to exude manliness. For further reading, I suggest heading on over to (surprise): The Art of Manliness.

See you at next year’s kumite.

Doug

Van Damme’s Volvo ad — ‘The Muscles from Brussels’ still has it

Van Damme Volvo splits

Any young boy who grew up in the late 80’s and early 90’s remembers how awesome Jean-Claude Van Damme was in his prime. The guy was absolutely amazing to watch, and perhaps no film better encapsulates what made him a star than 1988’s ‘Bloodsport.’ Along the way, JCVD got involved in all sorts of activities known for killing a career, and that’s exactly what happened. However, after an impressive stint in ‘JCVD’ and ‘The Expendables 2,’ the old man has shown his fans that he still has it. His new Volvo ad is icing on the cake.

Autoblog reports:

It must be fun working in the marketing department of Volvo Trucks these days. It seems any crazy thought conjured around a conference room table can be turned into a stunt using tightrope walkers, bull runners or hamsters. Risking the life of their own president is even within the bounds of reason. And it’s working: the videos for these stunts have made Volvo Trucks a channel worth subscribing to on YouTube, with millions of people having clicked on them so far.

Their latest stunt, previewed earlier this week, involves actor and martial arts experts Jean-Claude Van Damme, well known for the butt-kicking he did on the big screen during the ’80s and ’90s. His signature move was the splits, which Volvo Trucks tapped into for this demonstration of how directionally stable its Volvo Dynamic Steering is.

Dynamic Steering is nice, and the Enya soundtrack is hilarious, but at the end of the day fans just want to feel nostalgic for all those roundhouse kicks, splits and epic baddie beatdowns JCVD was known for back in the day. If a grown man doesn’t like ‘Bloodsport’ there may in fact be something wrong with him. Low testosterone levels? Erectile dysfunction? Not enjoying Frank Dux’s tale as portrayed by Jean-Claude is a sign of a serious underlying medical condition.

Van Damme splits

Here’s why ‘Bloodsport’ is one of the Top 10 “guy” movies of all time:

Think about Dux’s story. He honors his sensei (i.e., for all intents and purposes his adopted father). He’s a member of the Armed Forces. He undergoes rigorous training and suffers countless setbacks in his youth, yet bears down and fights through it to accomplish things an earlier version of himself would have never thought possible. He travels great distances to take part in a contest where failure might mean death—for something larger than himself. He plays by the rules even when his opponent cheats, and ultimately he comes out on top.

The only time Frank missteps is when he decides to sleep with the sexy, blond and liberal reporter who looks down on the men involved with the tournament, but is willing to crawl into bed with them if they’ll talk. The error is so costly it almost disqualifies him, as the reporter outs Frank’s presence to the authorities and tries to have the tournament brought down. Note to self: Resist sexy blondes at all costs.

Another interesting aspect of Bloodsport is the dichotomy between Ray Jackson and Frank Dux. Ray Jackson represents the stereotypical American: loud, brash, in your face, and uncultured. He’s rude, but he’s also loyal…and kicks ass. And finally, he’s cocky, which actually ends up being his downfall. Those who are familiar with the movie know that there probably wasn’t any limit to what Ray could have done if he would have reigned in his attitude, had a bit more humility, and listened to his good friend’s advice.

Frank Dux is the American ideal. He’s soft spoken, but confident and strong. He’s distinctly American, but he’s honed his skills by drawing from the best of multiple cultures. He’s honorable and loyal, but he’s very much an individual. He doesn’t go out of his way to pick a fight, but he recognizes evil when he sees it and he’s not afraid to step in to right wrongs from time to time (e.g., the fighter who was forcing himself on the reporter in the lobby). Frank makes no apologies for who he is or where he came from, and his goal is to be the world’s best. Period.

What kind of red-blooded American man doesn’t go for that?

As a kid I subconsciously learned lessons from both of these characters, even if I wasn’t able to articulate them. Did Frank Dux’s story inspire me to enlist in the military when I was exited high school? Not directly, but in the mosaic that was my life it certainly left a mark. The power of popular culture to shape young minds is severely underrated, which is why I’ve always said that some of my social conservative friends are missing the boat by walking away from the entertainment field all together.

Anyway, God bless ya, JCVD. I hope you still have a couple more movies left in the tank.

Related: Big Hollywood neglects ‘Bloodsport.’ Somewhere, a conservative angel cries

Editor’s note: When I lived in Germany, I ran around the country in the 90s trying to find the ‘Bloodsport’ soundtrack. I finally succeed after months of searching. I played the entire thing and then threw my hands up in frustration when it turned out that the incredibly cheesy ‘Steal the Night,’ by Paul Hertzog was not included. What kind of sick bastard does such a thing? At least they had ‘Fight to Survive’

Ray Jackson: "Go home!"
Ray Jackson: “Go home!”

Expendables 2 video game trailer delivers the testosterone

The Expendables 2 is opening in a few months, which means there will also be a video game. As luck would have it, the trailer is out now and it delivers a much-needed dose of testosterone.

It’s been a disturbing couple of months, as I see a steady trickle of search engine results bring men to douglasernstblog.com in their quest for “brosiery and mantyhose”— but what is more disturbing has been the occasional Republican buying into the claptrap that video games make kids violent. Wrong.

What makes kids inappropriately violent are bad parents. What makes kids inappropriately violent are cultures that place little value on human life. What makes kids inappropriately violent are neighborhoods and communities that tolerate it. The easiest thing to do is to blame video games and video game makers for deep-seated problems that metastasized long before computer graphics perfected the blood splatter or bone crunch.

With that said, it should also be noted that violence isn’t always a bad thing. Teaching kids to be violent — when necessary — is healthy. Does good and evil exist? If so, let’s have it displayed in a video game. And if good and evil exist, who symbolizes good and who symbolizes evil? While I haven’t had a chance to play the Expendables 2 video game, a good guess might be that Communist-thug regimes and the goons of South American dictators are the bad guys. And if that’s the case, then I say: “Put that controller into your kids’ hands and let them have at it!”

Communism is an ideology that is inherently evil. In order to work it must find ways to crush individualism and property rights, which doesn’t “lead” to totalitarianism — it is totalitarianism. And so, when an American video game symbolically destroys that evil for all the world to see, I root for high sales.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see an avatar of Sylvester Stallone blowing away North Korean soldiers, perhaps the kind who perform in Kazoo Armies by day and rape women by night? There are free nations and there are fear nations, and there is nothing wrong with portraying them in video games. The problem with many video games is that today’s characters are often anti-heroes, or the line between good and evil is so blurred that the user doesn’t know what to believe. Stallone’s movies (and I’m assuming his video games) generally don’t have that problem, which is probably a reason why I’ve been watching and loving them for ages.

Don’t let the North Korean soldiers and their kazoo army fool you. When the kazoo parties are over they go back to running modern-day gulags and oppressing their own people.

Still not convinced? Watch this workout video with Terry Crews. He seems like a genuinely nice guy and a stand-up citizen. There’s nothing cooler than a man who is physically fit, mentally strong, compassionate and in possession of a moral compass. If I had kids, I’d let them hang out with Crews any day of the week, and I’d definitely let them play the Expendables 2 video game.

Big Hollywood Neglects Bloodsport. Somewhere, A Conservative Angel Cries.

This is how I feel when I see most “youth outreach” by conservative politicians. Regardless, Bloodsport should be a classic for all conservative movie goers.

Big Hollywood has missed the boat on coverage of one particular movie for some time now. I love them, but I can not wait any longer to give this movie the analysis it deserves: Bloodsport.

Any conservative worth his or her salt needs to not only have seen Bloodsport, but love it. There are countless conservative principles embedded in Jean Claude’s early classic and pre-cocaine-fueled-downward-spiral that it’s not even funny (I heard that’s all behind him now, but you have to question whether or not it’s true since he turned down an offer to appear in The Expendables).

Even better, uber liberal Forrest Whitaker plays a role, so the sooner conservatives can make and solidify the case for Bloodsport as an ultra-conservative fight-classic, the better.

Frank Dux’s story is filled with loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. If the acronym for that looks familiar, that’s because it is—it’s the Seven Army Values. And yes, Fank Dux was a military man. Critics will of course point out that Dux took part in the Kumite, despite a lawful order from his superiors not to. Touche. And, while it’s a very valid point, I don’t want to get caught in the weeds discussing the occasional douche-rules the military can dole out to good soldiers who need a break. There will be plenty of time for that in future Bloodsport posts…

Think about Dux’s story. He honors his sensei (i.e., for all intents and purposes his adopted father). He’s a member of the Armed Forces. He undergoes rigorous training and suffers countless setbacks in his youth, yet bears down and fights through it to accomplish things an earlier version of himself would have never thought possible. He travels great distances to take part in a contest where failure might mean death—for something larger than himself. He plays by the rules even when his opponent cheats, and ultimately he comes out on top.

The only time Frank missteps is when he decides to sleep with the sexy, blond, liberal reporter who looks down on the men involved with the tournament, but is willing to sleep with them if they’ll spill the beans. The error is so costly that it almost disqualifies him, as the reporter outs Frank’s presence to the authorities and tries to have the tournament brought down. Note to self: Resist sexy blondes at all costs.

Another interesting aspect of Bloodsport is the dichotomy between Ray Jackson and Frank Dux. Ray Jackson represents the stereotypical American: loud, brash, in your face, and uncultured. He’s rude, but he’s also loyal…and kicks ass. And finally, he’s cocky, which actually ends up being his downfall. Those who are familiar with the movie know that there probably wasn’t any limit to what Ray could have done if he would have reigned in his attitude, had a bit more humility, and listened to his good friend’s advice.

Frank Dux is the American ideal. He’s soft spoken, but confident and strong. He’s distinctly American, but he’s honed his skills by drawing from the best of multiple cultures. He’s honorable and loyal, but he’s very much an individual. He doesn’t go out of his way to pick a fight, but he recognizes evil when he sees it and he’s not afraid to step in to right wrongs from time to time (e.g., the fighter who was forcing himself on the reporter in the lobby). Frank makes no apologies for who he is or where he came from, and his goal is to be the world’s best. Period.

Given these two characters, most of us would probably want to be Frank. However, it should be noted that both kick a**. As a representation of the country, it’s safe to say that the liberal scribe usually opts to have characters not kick a**. They turn into Matt Damon, who is only allowed to display awesomeness if a corrupt U.S. government is on the receiving end, or if an international tribunal of United Nations appointed diplomats (perhaps caught up in an oil-for-food scandal?) give him permission.

When conservatives talk to young people about Hollywood they need to bring up such points. Yet they don’t. All too often, today’s conservative leaders shun the entertainment industry or cast it off as an abysmal cultural cesspool not worth stepping in to. We need to tease out what’s cool and conservative in the entertainment industry (even if liberal writers create it inadvertently), and talk about those things. We need to redefine what’s cool and get young people clamoring for it, instead of casting off the industry entirely.

There will always be power players behind the scenes attempting to frame the debate and set the terms for what young people should and shouldn’t desire. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, we need t entire the fight, fight to win, and make the other side say, “Matté!” And besides,with guys like Markos Moulitsas on the other side’s bench, to not do so would be an embarrassment.

There are two competing ideologies sparring over the next generation. Let’s get in the game and fight to win. Until now, I haven’t seen much to be proud of by conservative politicians.