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The “John McClane Syndrome” – a Quintapalus Vocabulary Lesson November 22, 2005, 6:55 pm

Posted by quintapalus in Quintapalus Vocabulary Lessons.
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This phrase comes to us from the three movies which comprise the Die Hard series. In the first movie, highly professional and well financed thieves posing as terrorists take over the Nakatomi Plaza in LA in order to steal $600 Million. John McClane, a member of the NYPD, narrowly escapes the initial assault and proceeds to do what he can to bring down the bad guys. At first, he is just trying to alert authorities to the situation but is unsuccessful due to bureaucracy and disbelief. Once all the authorities figure out what is going on, they spend half the movie arguing with McClane, the one guy who is on the inside and doing all the work. No one in the command of the LAPD or the FBI listens to McClane when he is in a unique position to help or provide intelligence, and they even threaten him with prosecution for interfering. Of course, McClane saves the day, even though he had to fight the authorities almost as much as the bad guys. The whole time all of his efforts and critical insights are shrugged off, met with disbelief, ignored or even threatened. Maybe the cops and feds were right to treat McClane with such skepticism in that first movie, but as we go to second and third installments of the series, this situation and the origins of this vocabulary lesson become very apparent.


In the second movie, titled “Die Hard 2: Die Harder? we are given another extremely complex conspiracy where bad guys in conjunction with corrupted US military personnel take the Dulles Airport in Washington DC hostage so that they can free a captured drug baron. Mr. “wrong place at the wrong time? McClane figures out that something is the matter, and that it isn’t as simple as what some people think it is. Of course, even though he does his “I’ve got a bad feelin’ about this man? line, no one believes him. He starts uncovering more and more information and angles about the conspiracy but no one even bothers to hear him out. This is getting kind of stupid; he’s John McClane. He single handedly took down the entire crew that tried to rob the Nakatomi Plaza in the first movie, and he’s being treated like the crazy homeless guy in the park that really knows who killed Kennedy. With everyone ignoring McClane and yes, again threatening him as well, it basically rests on his shoulders to single handedly save the day. This he does of course, and that brings us to the third and final installment of the “Die Hard? series, “Die Hard with a Vengeance.?

I am not really going to detail the third movie except to say that again we have a very complex conspiracy that has a simple, albeit fake wrapper around it for purposes of misdirection. McClane does his “I have a bad feelin’ about this? act, starts making some noise, but lo and behold, no one believes him or even bothers to listen to him. C’mon people, this is John “I saved the world twice all by myself? McClane. When he gets a “hunch? or a “gut feeling,? you frickin’ listen to him!! Shit is about to go down!! Of course, they don’t, but that’s okay because it gives birth to this Quintapalus Vocabulary Lesson.

The John McClane Syndrome (JMS) occurs when a person who has proven themselves time and time again to be eminently qualified to act or speak in a specific situation is ignored and even disbelieved while said situation is taking place to the complete detriment of everyone involved.

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