Saturday, February 11, 2012

R.J. MacReady: John Carpenter's "The Thing"

Actor:          Kurt Russell
Year:           1982
Beard Type: Nature Beard, Scientist Beard

R.J. MacReady, a helicopter pilot with a penchant for J&B, is part of a group of Americans in a scientific expedition in Antarctica, located at the United States National Science Institute, Station 4.  He may not be the best Chess Wizard player, but he has a hell of a beard. In fact, MacReady's beard puts the rest of the beards of Outpost #31 to shame. He has simply grown a better beard in these harsh conditions. He is the Alpha Beard. 

MacReady's beard works two-fold. As a Nature Beard, he is able to withstand the bitter winter wind ("First goddamn week of winter"). As a Scientist Beard, he is given the power of rational thought. When trust is at a premium within his camp, MacReady resorts to the scientific method:

Question: Who is infected?
Research: "Blood from one of you things...will try to from a hot needle."
Hypothesis: Touching a hot wire to a blood sample will reveal those infected.
Experiment: Acquire blood samples from each human and subject it to a hot wire.
Result: Palmer's blood jumps from the petri dish in the presence of the hot wire. Palmer transforms into an alien creature and proceeds to eat Windows' face.


MacReady is a man that gets things done. He is also stubborn and not afraid to drown a cheatin'-bitch computer with scotch whisky.  Most of all, he is resilient. He and Childs (Keith David) survive and find themselves in a heavily debated final confrontation. As Childs and MacReady ponder who is what over a bottle of liquor, they also accept that they will soon freeze to death in the dwindling heat from the Blair-monster explosion. But we all know that MacReady will be the last man standing. He has a beard. Childs does not. That's the power of the beard, folks.

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