Here we sit, arms interlocked, happily cohesive, happily idolatrous, happily sharing a rich platter of preconceived ideas. All thoughts point to one thing: Steven Seagal, exemplar of the arts, muse to the masses, bounteous treasure of humankind, is a presence whose force exists on a single plane, a splashing liquid life held inside one container, easily definable, easily spoke of, a friend to a simple understanding. The filmic rivers flow full of Seagal, alluvium of ass-kicking action coating every shingle, a righteous dynamic that constitutes the very integrity of the medium. Seagal is a movie star. His literature consists of pictures and sound. He embellishes his theorems with car chases. He paints scenes in technicolour fisticuffs. Seagal is cinema and cinema is Seagal.
Yet our grasp loosens, we begin to cling with less force, our faces turn pale as news arrives to contradict all held dear. Not one but two, a duality, blocking the path, dissolving the singularity, superimposing a new state of multiplicity.
There are two Steven Seagals.
One is Steven Seagal, fictional officer of the law, a symbol of justice battering bad guys and keeping the streets clean. The other is Steven Seagal, actual officer of the law, a symbol of justice battering bad guys and keeping the streets clean.
What’s that? A man known for throwing his foes down elevator shafts is a cop in real life?
Fiction has truly spilled over into reality. I wonder if two decades’ worth of leg snapping, neck breaking ultraviolence will make the transition. There’s been a breach in the cinematic hull somewhere, make-believe vocations are rapidly escaping, spraying out unhindered. Seagal just punched a giant ontological hole in the fiction-reality divide.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Seagal says:
“I make a living in the movies, but for the past twenty years I’ve also been a cop. And along with some of the finest deputies on the force, I serve the people of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. My name is Steven Seagal. That’s right. Steven Seagal, Deputy Sheriff.”