“Dadcore” Is a Thing

by Christopher Paul on February 25, 2014

I didn’t even know there was such a thing as “Dadcore” but it certainly explains why we see he same played out plot over and over.

Dadcore is a different breed of film, set apart entirely from the more widely appealing “dad-ertainment” of things like The Rookie or any movie directed by Edward Zwick. Those are movies that virtually anyone can watch and enjoy—there may be a core of dad-ness, but in terms of content and message, the appeal is pretty universal. Dadcore is more narrowly defined by being rip-snorting action movies—many of them hardcore and rated R—in which the plot is vaguely defined by a male character seeking revenge or vengeance or some kind of justice (spiritual or otherwise), usually outside the letter of the law. (Think Taken or True Lies, a movie that raised the standard for dadcore epics to come.) Most of the time, the main characters in these movies are either fathers or form some kind of surrogate father relationship with a younger character, keeping the “by dads, for dads” central message of dadcore steadily intact. These movies often contain extreme violence and occasional nudity, although the nudity is almost always desexualized, like the stripper that randomly flashes the audience in Under Siege, or the topless woman who is chased by a terrorist at the beginning of Die Hard. In dadcore, both women and explosions are objectified with the same level of bemused detachment. These are movies that your dad took you to but maybe shouldn’t have—things like Cliffhanger, Executive Decision, and, of course, the first Die Hard. Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.

And it shouldn’t be a surprise that these films do much better overseas than they do in the US; I’m going to take a stab at the reason: paternal views and traditions are stronger than they are in the US as American men shift their definition of what a father does.

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