Why Every Action Hero Should Be Deaf

By Robert Scucci | Published

Did you know that guns are insanely loud? For context, the average .22-caliber rifle can produce up to 140 decibels when fired, which is 55 decibels louder than a gas-powered lawnmower. Even lawnmowers are loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage if you don’t use proper ear protection, yet action heroes use much larger weapons, which makes me wonder how they aren’t all completely deaf.

Always Use Protection

I’ve been thinking about gunplay in movies ever since Bill Burr pointed out how loud guns are in his I’m Sorry You Feel That Way special that came out in 2014. Burr suggests that having a high-caliber weapon on your bedside table to fight off a potential home invasion isn’t smart because after firing off a single round, your ears will immediately start ringing, and the room’s already dark. Action heroes, on the other hand, unload magazine after magazine with no hearing protection, and they’re able to carry on conversations without yelling after an epic showdown.

Hearing Damage Can Come From Any Loud Noise

What’s more, significant hearing damage has a negative influence on your balance, and I’ve never seen an action hero stumble after a shootout. Prolonged exposure to loud noises turns you into a wobbly mess because your equilibrium gets completely thrown off. Claudio Sanchez from the band Coheed & Cambria once told Rolling Stone that after using in-ear monitors for the first time during a live performance, he spent the entire next day accidentally smashing his face into door frames while trying to walk from room to room.

Archer Gets It Right

Sterling Archer is the only action hero that I know of who has ever addressed how loud guns are. In the Archer episode entitled “Bel Panto: Part I,” Archer reveals that he suffers from severe tinnitus and has to sleep with a fan on in order to tune out the intense ringing in his ears that he hears all the time. Throughout the series, there are several instances in which Archer puts his fingers in his ears while yelling “Mawp! Mawp!” after firing off a round in an elevator or some other similarly tight enclosure.

Archer’s acknowledgment of the hearing damage he’s sustained throughout his career as a high-profile spy makes me wonder why action heroes don’t mess with this concept a little bit more. Action movies are known for using comic relief, and I can’t think of a better way to break the tension after a tense action sequence than a series of miscommunications made possible through hearing damage.

It’s Unrealistic But It’s Awesome

arnold schwarzenegger predator

While I think that Predator is a perfect action movie, I find it hard to believe that Mac is able to be so soft-spoken after capping off 200 rounds with his minigun (full pack!). Predator would be even more terrifying if our favorite action heroes suffered from hearing loss while trying to subdue the alien creature that’s hunting them for sport. Not only would the Predator have an advantage because of his cloaking abilities, but he’d have a whole lot of fun sneaking up on Dutch and company if their hearing was completely decimated while trying to get to the chopper.

In an alternate universe where guns in films are as loud as they are in real life, every single action hero would have more obstacles to overcome, which would allow for more dramatic tension. I think it’s about time we work this concept into some films and see how it plays out.