What Would Ol’ Jack Burton Do In a Situation Like This?

Catalysts, deliberate or unintentional, real or perceived can affect our actions, alter our plans, and divert our approach.  It’s like when I bought my first house.  It took a lot of sacrifice and hard work to make that happen and it was a fixer-upper.  $80k. Yep.   

One day, I was installing a screen door and my dad stopped by.  Now, I know my way around tools and have done some handyman work in my time and I was moving right along with that door.  Alone.  No influences.

However, my dad’s mere presence changed things.  “Did I measure that right?”  “Where’s my hammer?”  “Wait; why do I need a hammer?”  I was no longer in the zone and things seemed more difficult than what they should have been.  My dad was a plumber, contractor, and mechanic in his day.  Old school stuff.  I learned a lot through him.  And he didn’t say anything or question me about how I was doing things; he was just there.  And it threw me off.     

But, you know what ol’ Jack Burton would say at a time like this?  He’ll look that screen door square in the eyes, wink at the situation and say, “Give me your best shot, pal.  I can take it.”

Who the hell is Jack Burton?

Jack Burton was Kurt Russell’s character in ‘Big Trouble in Little China’.  An anti-hero truck driver who quotes himself in the third person:  “When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol’ Jack Burton always says at a time like that: Have ya paid your dues, Jack?  Yessir, the check is in the mail.”

Big trouble is a cult classic today, but flopped at the box office.  With a $25-million budget, Big Trouble only pulled in about $11-million.  What happened?

Well, The Golden Child Stopped by when they were installing the screen door.  Here’s what happened:

John Carpenter was asked to direct ‘The Golden Child’, but was already working on ‘Big Trouble in Little China’.  His reaction, “How many adventure pictures dealing with Chinese mysticism have been released by the major studios in the past 20 years? For two of them to come along at the exact same time is more than mere coincidence.” 

So now, Big Trouble has a rival and it quickly went into production and rushed through post production, so that it could open in theatres five months before Golden Child.  If this wasn’t enough, how about this:  Big Trouble in Little China is an action-adventure comedy.  But, The Golden Child was originally to be an action-adventure movie, starring Mel Gibson.  But when he wasn’t available, the studio cast Eddie Murphy and it became an action-adventure comedy, just like Big Trouble.

Yeah; no way it goes well for either movie. 

Now there’s this rivalry between 20th Century Fox and Paramount Studios.  Was John Carpenters approach affected by these things?  Yes … unfortunately.  But I’ll say this; I love Big Trouble in Little China and The Golden Child doesn’t even come close.

Stuff like this happens all the time in reality, life, and whatever we may be working on, but we can’t let it affect us.  The competition manufactures something similar and rushes to market with a huge campaign.  Or you’re about to buy a house and someone says, “Ooh, are you sure you want to do that in this market?”  Maybe you’re installing a screen door with your dad, observing your work.     

“What do you do Jack? What do you do?”  No … no, that’s a different movie. 

But … trust in your skills, experience, and approach.  No one else is living our life, but us.  And relax; it’s just a screen door!  Sure, John Carpenter didn’t have the luxury of saying that, but both movies would probably have been so much better if he was allowed to apply his art, philosophy, and style, unaffected and uninfluenced by the circumstances around him.     

Reality can be quite unreasonable at times, but as Jack Burton said, “I’m a reasonable guy, but I’ve just experienced some very unreasonable things.”

Keep going.  Keep doing your thing as you do it.  That’s what the world really wants.  And if you feel nervous or questions yourself, remember, “Ol’ Jack always says … what the hell?”

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