Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Forgotten Heroes of Yore: Steven Segal

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Imagine it’s 1991 and you find yourself walking down a street in “The Big City.” It’s your first time there and you tend to gawk as you stare upward at the skyscrapers. Your every movement telegraphs the fact that you’re a tourist to everybody around.

You accidentally make a wrong turn while looking for the Museum of Vomit Splatters Shaped Like Religious Figures, and end up in some dark and smelly alley. You’re confused and apprehensive. You’ve heard that in the alleys of “The Big City” roving gangs of hoodlums and ne’er-do-wells hold sway, attacking and killing innocents like yourself, at will.

Suddenly, from the corner of your eye, out jumps three street thugs. They look big and mean and are holding various implements of destruction, while yelling at you, (with vulgar language no less!) that they want your wallet, watch, phone and any other valuables you have about your person. You’re scared stiff, unable to even comply with their brutish demands. Your eyes, locked on their knives and chains and whatnot, have you rooted you to the spot out of fear.

Like lightning, a flurry of fists and elbows attack out of nowhere, pinning the thugs against walls and throwing them to the ground. The thugs, bruised and battered, run for their lives, while your savior reveals himself to you. With squinty eyes, magnificent ponytail and mumbled, flat-toned words, the good Samaritan hands you back your wallet and tells you to be careful, before disappearing in the shadows like a ninja.

You have just been rescued by the force of nature that is Steven Segal. And you can take solace in that. But at the same time, let your heart hang heavy, because you know that every minute Steven Segal wastes in “The Big City” saving your ass, is one less minute he gets to spend in Montana, saving the mighty caribou, or the majestic spruce tree.

You see, Steven Segal would prefer to not be a fighter but, rather, a lover. A lover and a fighter. Okay, I guess he really wants to be both, but only for the most noblest of causes: Mother Earth. Steven Segal deeply loves nature and the environment and he’s willing to spastically aikido chop in the neck anybody who threatens his lady love.

The story of Steven Segal is a boring one, but one I shall tell nonetheless. Maybe I’ll throw in some explosions and gratuitous nudity to spice things up a bit.

Steven F. Segal (the F is for Fabricated) was born in 1951 in Lansing, Michigan. Poor boy. I’ve been to Michigan and I instantly pity him. When he was five, he (and probably the rest of his family) moved to California, where whatever it is in the air out there that instantly turns people on the west coast into loonies, worked its magic on him. He began studying aikido, which in Japanese means “martial art that a fat guy can do without moving around too much.”

Besides mastering aikido, (later earning the rank of Shodan, which really isn’t as impressive as it sounds) Steven Segal also earned belts in karate, kendo and judo. They were chartreuse belts, but they were belts none the less! And it’s more than you have, gaijin!

Feeling the high from all the fashion accessories he was earning, he moved to Japan and became the first foreign manager of an aikido dojo, (of course these days, the Japanese have outsourced all of their dojo managerial jobs to phone technicians in India. The students have suffered terribly due to communication problems.) He also claims to have fought Yakuza, but after seeing the kind of people he fights in his movies, I kind of doubt it.

Anyway, after a decade or so slumming around Japan, Segal came back to America in the early 80s and was a personal bodyguard for several Hollywood celebrities. I, for one, wonder just who would hire him as a bodyguard. Estelle Getty perhaps? Carrot Top?

It seems that somebody in Hollywood was impressed with Segal’s sixth-degree aikido black belt and decided to give him his first movie. And if you’re wondering, yes, that somebody in Hollywood was a movie producer who enjoyed freebasing crack. Segal’s first movie was 1988’s Above the Law, wherein he beat up a lot of people for a reason that I’m sure seemed good at the time, (not to be confused with the much better Above the Rim, starring the late Bernie Mac, the really late Tupac and the man with one name, Leon) and its synchronistic release, during the late 80s-early 90s rush of corny action movies, made Segal an instant action star.

Segal went on to star in many other forgettable action movies that did very poorly at the box office. In fact, I don’t think I can name a single one of them, but I know that in each he out-acted the hell out of everybody else who ever appeared on screen with him. That’s because Steven has only one acting style, “dead.” No matter what emotion he was supposed to portray, no matter what his lines were, he had no more facial expression or tonal inflection than a dead person, (yeah, I know that dead people don’t have tonal inflections, but that shows how much you know. He’s only mostly dead, smarty pants!) He may not have won any awards for his acting, (or maybe he has, I didn’t check) but he’ll always be a master thespian to me.

Steven Segal hasn’t had a movie released in American theaters since 2003, but that hasn’t stopped him from making at least a dozen movies so far this decade. Surprised? You shouldn’t be, he’s a hardworking man. But, as he says “I am hoping that I can be known as a great writer and actor some day, rather than a sex symbol*.” And perhaps time will bear out that hope. Probably not though.

The thing is, acting is secondary to Mr. Segal. He’s really got a chubby for the environment. That’s why he did that one movie where he killed everybody in the EPA, (but he recycled their mangled corpses as fertilizer, because he was green before being green was in.) And that other movie where he and the four other Planeteers got together to unleash the power of Captain Planet and fight the evil of Hoggish Greedly. Or something.

He’s also an accomplished musician. Perhaps you’ve heard of his albums Songs from the Crystal Cave and Mojo Priest? No? Then you’d better get to iTunes right now and start downloading his soothing guitar work. The rich melodies and intricate compositions will blow your mind!

Segal is also a marketing genius! I drink at least two cans of Steven Segal’s Lightning Bolt a day. You want to know why? Because according to Steven “I have traveled the world creating this drink; there is none better that I know.” And syntax that distracting has to be right!

I’d like to finish up this tribute to a forgotten hero with a haiku:

Steven “The” Segal
Spaz chopped my still beating heart
With his manly love

*No shit, that’s an actual quote!

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