Here's the thing you have to understand about Die Hard: almost every person in it is a douche bag.
Think about it. Which characters in Die Hard can you describe in two words without one of those words being either "douche" or "bag." Almost none, right? Everyone is a dickhead in that movie, with 3 notable exceptions (that we'll get to later). For the most part, everyone in Die Hard is mean and spiteful and dumb as shit. The film starts with this dickhead:
...Who decides that a landing is a perfect time to strike up a conversation with someone who is obviously afraid of flying. (I like to think the guy wanted to strike up a conversation with McClane for the entire New York-to-LA flight and finally had a eureka moment when he saw McClane's hands grip the arms of his chair.) He, of course, cowers like a bitch when McClane reveals that he's a macho man with a gun. From there we're whisked off to a magical world filled with douche bags that grind our gears and irritate our loins. Just think about it:
There's this dopey ass lieutenant, getting in the way of the hard-working sergeant.
What about the dickless reporter, bothering people and telling them to eat it. (There's also Harv, who thinks Helsinki is in Sweden.)
There's Agents Johnson & Johnson (no relation), who fuck everything up and almost kill a shitload of hostages.
Or even this computer! What the hell is a touchscreen, anyway? Bullshit, that's what.
Yes, there sure are a lot of douche bags in Die Hard.
...At least, that's what they'd like you to think.
The truth is that there is exactly one douche bag in Die Hard and this is him:
Yes, John McClane, the great John McClane, is a douche bag.
Think about it. You know it to be true. Why is everyone in Die Hard a douche bag? Because John McClane thinks they're a douche bag. You should be clued in pretty early, during this scene when McClane walks through the airport. Think about what bothers McClane. People smiling. People hugging. And, when he meets his driver:
A b-b-black guy?!?! Driving a limosine?! And he listens to rap music! The temerity!
From there, everyone we are introduced to are seen through McClane's eyes. Everyone at the Christmas party is smiling, having fun, and it eats at John McClane something fierce:
And then there's his wife.
His poor, poor wife.
McClane Gennaro is a modern woman. She is smart and confident and very, very good at her job. She moved across the country to join the Yakatomi Corporation, rising fast in their ranks. (You can assume she's making well over 6 figures, which in the Eighties was pretty fucking impressive.) Most importantly, she doesn't need her husband OR his last name. She's a model of the feminist ideal.
Naturally, McClane fucking hates her.
They have a fight almost as soon as he arrives (it's McClane's fault, naturally) and then Holly has to leave to take care of, you know, her job. McClane seethes, trapped in his own powerlessness. If only there was a way he could show his wife, show everyone, that he's not as emasculated as he seems...
Oh, there we go.
Conveniently, an elite group of international terrorists happens to pick this Christmas party to attack and hold for ransom. Conveniently, John McClane is the only person in the building who could hope to take these evildoers down. Conveniently, McClane ends up saving his wife and shows her just how much she needs him.
How so very convenient.
My contention is that none of this actually happened. John McClane, clearly driven deranged by his powerlessness and impotency, falls asleep after his long flight and dreams all of Die Hard as a way to get back at his wife.
Who are the villains in Die Hard? Minorities, Europeans, bureaucratic cops that expect you to follow the rules, the media.
Now, think about it: who does a middle aged white cop from New York hate? I rest my case.
No, there's only one douche bag in Die Hard. The douche bag is the shitty New York cop who comes to California and is overwhelmed by his own patheticness that he has to dream up an elaborate scenario wherein Californians and even California itself need him to save them.
You can make it larger: who does John McClane represent? Why, New York itself. Holly Gennaro is business, leaving behind the horrible shackles of the East Coast to find glamour and success on the glittering coast of California. New York shakes its fist in impotent rage and, with tear-soaked eyes, imagines their revenge.
But, of course, that revenge never comes. In reality, John McClane wakes up on his wife's luxurious office couch and goes out to the party. He starts drinking heavily and calls one of the European security guards with exquisite hair a faggot before spilling his drink on someone. Holly, mortified, makes him leave. McClane spends the rest of his trip on his captain's couch and is found in a gutter 2 years later without a penny to his name. The man is quite literally forgotten, much like New York itself.
'But Rudy,' You're surely thinking, 'if John McClane isn't the hero of Die Hard, then who is?'
Meet the true hero of Die Hard. Harry Ellis is, quite possibly, the greatest film hero in the history of the medium. Look at him! He's remarkable. He's handsome, successful, charming, and incredibly forward-thinking. He's a modern man, one that's not afraid of a powerful woman or the rising threat of globalism. He is California.
Here's an illustration: John McClane frequently insults the terrorists he makes up in his mind. How does he do this? He feminizes them. They almost have long hair and feminine features (these are people he's imagining, remember that). Even after Karl's brother is killed by McClane, our villain insults his small feet by comparing them to his sister's. (Just imagine the relationship those two have!)
Meanwhile, Harry Ellis loves women. He works well with Holly, giving her a gift to show his appreciation for her work.* And when McClane has Ellis try to show report with Hans Gruber, how does he do so? He calls him "Booby." This female-positive language clearly marks our friend Harry as a feminist.
*How does McClane reclaim ownership of his wife in his fucked-up fantasy? He has her rip off the watch that signifies her as a modern woman. Sickening.
And one last thing: in McClane's John Birch retelling of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, he imagines a man named Hans Gruber as his nemesis. Hans is everything McClane is not and fears: he's smart, well-educated, savvy, and effortlessly handsome. Sound like anyone else we know? Here, have a picture:
Hans is Ellis!
Ellis is Hans!
McClane, clearly threatened by the awesomeness that is our friend Ellis, re-imagines him as the villain in his fantasy! How sad. How pathetic. How New Yorkish.
Yes, Harry Ellis is the true hero of Die Hard. You can imagine him telling McClane to leave when he's embarrassing himself and then comforting poor Holly Gennaro. She's impressed by his emotional side, so unlike her boorish husband. They date and marry and raise two healthy, sex-positive children. He probably even pitches in a few bucks to give their worthless New York father a proper burial. Money is no object to him; he deals million dollar deals for breakfast, after all. He lives a fabulous life and nothing bad ever happens to him because guys like
me him always win.
There is quite possibly no bigger hero in all the world than Harry Ellis. He is everything one could hope to be in a modern man and I, for one, salute him. After reading this, I hope you will too.
I proudly induct Harry Ellis into the Arby's Bathroom of Excellence. May he serve as eternity as our White Knight.