The other day Dane and I went to see Solo, and one of the trailers they played before the movie started was this one:
I'll be the first to admit, I like action movies. I'm picky about them, however. I feel the less enlightened ones tend to glorify toxic masculinity. This film is no different. What is different is that this one triggered my "Why do white dudes think they're the exception to everything including gravity? Because the entire system tells them they are." thought bubble. I mean, in the first thirty seconds of that trailer Cruise's motorcycle is hit full speed by a car twice. He rolls down the pavement without a helmet. Miraculously, he doesn't hit his head--not even once. Thank gods for computer animation, right? Is he even dizzy after rolling fifty feet? Bruised? Scratched? Nope. Reality--even physics--has zero effect. That was when I got to thinking about the real cost of these kinds of stunts--the stunts that require greater and greater risk in order to give a bigger and bigger thrill. Where does that illusion lead? What does it say to the audience? What does it mean when we can't even name the people who make this illusion possible?
I thought about Jackie Chan, who, at the age of 57 said that he was retiring from the more dangerous stunts because he wasn't fast enough anymore. Speaking of Jackie Chan, here's a list of injuries he's accrued over time. (And that one is an old list. There are more.) That's a lot of damage for a human being to take. Long term, it can result in arthritis, cartilage loss, restricted movement, and pain. Of course, that's assuming one survives. He has hearing loss too. And here's the deal: he's Jackie Chan. He was compensated well for that. Stunt people don't necessarily get paid all that well. If you’re newer to the industry, you may only make $5,000 per year. Of course, most people will quote the high end when talking about industry jobs. However, on average a stuntman gets about $70,000 a year. And that's a stuntman. Stuntwomen make half that, remember.
Imagine the insurance premiums. Assuming they can get health insurance these days. They are independent contractors.
And yet, stunt people rarely get any recognition. There's no category for stunts at the Oscars. Can you even name a stunt person? I can't. Also, I've looked but can't find the actual statistics regarding on the job injury and death among stunt people. However, it is listed as one of the top ten most dangerous jobs in America. (Professional fishing being the top one.)
All in all, I wish they got more recognition and compensation for their work. I wish audiences were shown the reality of the stunts they're watching. I'd be good with something like that being an extra on the DVD. I know Jackie Chan used to run the stunt blooper after the credits. That was enlightening. Thing is, I don't think stunt people will get their due until the public understands this. Until then, the stunt coordinator job can still be filled by someone with zero experience or training, and safety regulations will be more strict regarding setting objects on fire versus an actual human being.
 Yeah. Remember Gary Busey?
 And have another article about the dangers. From the article: “They suddenly realized you need a permit to set a car or a trashcan on fire, but you can set a human on fire with no permit,” he tells me. “In a funny sort of way, that’s a perfect analogy for the business.”
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.