Premièred by Mann Plaza Theatre Independence Day Written by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich
Could this be any less subtle? I understand that the United States’ independence day celebration is being used as an analogy for Humanities’ own independence, but it’s executed in such a typically Americanised way that the international themes seem to only be there for the international audience.
Forgive me. I’m probably coming-across as a bit extraterrestrial myself. I can’t help it, I’ve never really liked this species. But I can recognise baiting when I see it. Independence Day‘s become perhaps the most mimicked disaster film ever, despite the fact that the most iconic moments are actually re-purposed images from other films. But anyway. The White House being destroyed by the Washington, D.C. ship, for instance. That tends to be “the” moment – an iconic American landmark, obliterated in spectacular fashion. I won’t lie, there’s something rousing about seeing the tourist attraction of one’s own country exploding. If only because it makes us feel appreciated by the people making the film. And Independence Day uses the celebration as a microcosm – the United States is the world, so to speak.
Then might I ask why the inclusion of international elements – characters, setting – only appear fleetingly enough to reinforce the national themes? I don’t have a problem with agendas in films; films should have agendas for their story to be about something. But it just seems strange to me that Independence Day would try to look all-inclusive when it’s really just an excuse for a country to use the safety of fiction to celebrate its existence by blowing itself up without it actually having to happen. There’s something universal – the barbarism in all of us.
For example – President Thomas J. Whitmore’s speech. That’s arguably the key scene, because it’s what brings all of those small threads together. But the style of the scene couldn’t be any more stereotypical of one style. The pilots lined-up, and the trumpet music. The fighter jets, and the iconography. I’m surprised it wasn’t directed by Michael Bay. And that makes the scene so specifically one thing, that any other things only seem included just so we don’t feel left out. Like the British pilots taking orders from the United States. We get it – you don’t want us to think we’ve been forgotten. But the way it was lodged in there, with the most over-the-top la-di-da English accents, comes across more as a mocking parody, i.e.: they have funny voices and take orders from us. Of course, that’s really what Independence Day‘s about, isn’t it? Republican anti-imperialism. You’ve shed yourself of a tyrannical empire, and now it’s time to fight off one from the skies. But who can blame you? The British Empire was the largest there’s ever been. Which is to say, the British Empire introduced slavery to a quarter of the world. There should be more democracy in this country, yes, but we have the gun control and that’s a start I guess.
I expect I seem hateful. Nah, but it’s a friendly rivalry. My point is, a film that prides itself on including people of different nationalities seems weird when the African characters at the end are almost a tribe, and the Egyptian characters essentially resemble Biblical characters. But the pyramids are destroyed, so that’s something, right? Woo, representation!
Of course, when I say this, I’m talking about American films, not the country itself. But then my favourite film is American. This is just one of the more stereotypical ones. If there’s one thing Hollywood prides itself upon, it’s its own ability to visualise more destruction than anyone else. But they’re also the ones capable of stopping it. And that’s why it’s the best country!
“There’s no better way to define American life than a two-hour plot in which the hero looks good and defeats evil.” – Michael Townley, Grand Theft Auto V