Ahhh, its Fourth of July. It’s hard not to like this time of year. The smell of freshly baked apple pie and barbecued chicken fill the hot summer air. American flags blow in the sweet gentle breeze. Fireworks can be seen from miles around followed by the screams of burning pain from the hooligans who lit them.
But for most Americans, Fourth of July means something much more meaningful and important. It’s not about the food, the festivities or the first degree burns. It’s about something more patriotic, more democratic, more American. It’s about getting a paid day off from work.
Days off are mine to do with what I wish. You spend all your time at work picturing the awe-inspiring things you could be doing if you weren’t trapped in a depressing, crushing, boring day job so you can sit around the house in your boxers watching â€œA Teamâ€ reruns thinking about all the awe-inspiring things you could be doing instead.
I always use mine to go to the movies. I never get any time to go on the weekend because I’m always working or too drunk and I never go during the week because I’m always working or too sober.
It’s also the perfect way to spend a day off. You get to watch jaw dropping and mind blowing slices of life without having to leave your chair. You can climb a mountain, shoot down a helicopter and win the girl of your dreams without having to pull a hamstring, face federal weapons charges or lose 100 pounds and get a job that comes with clean underpants.
But more importantly, what could be more American than the movies? Screw apple pie, fireworks and skin grafts. America is known by the movies we send out to the world. They are watched in every country on the planet and possibly by aliens on other planets. I don’t pretend to know well received they are or if they’re even liked by the negative space surrounding the old U.S. of A., but I imagine they see our movies the way we see Bollywood films: with confusion, bewilderment and a face usually reserved to react at Star Trek themed weddings and drag shows.
The themes American cinema has introduced to film describe America better than any overblown Lee Greenwood tune ever could. Movies are best watched on a big screen and we realized long ago that what you were seeing had to be as big as the frame, so we introduced things like the large explosion. Francis Scott Key gave us the rockets red glare, and Shane Black gave us the giant building that blew up real good because of a renegade cop with a death wish.
Our movies are big and bawdy and bold and unnecessarily loud. Our people are big and bawdy and bold and unnecessarily loud, and that’s just Texas.
We can take the most epic, breathtaking and picturesque stories man has ever created with nothing but a simple pen and paper and with the right creative minds, an underpaid staff living in another country and $250 million in backing, they can turn that story into 110 minutes of pure crap and it’ll make a hell of a lot of money.
Ok, so not all of our movies are perfect and we’ve introduced plot clich©s and techniques into film that have made movies seem more homogenized than milk, but if you look past all the hype, the product placements and Rob Schneider, you’ll see a common thread that truly defines us as a people, other than selling crap to make a hell of a lot of money.
Just about every movie is about someone trying to find something: love, truth, justice, hope, a smoking hot woman who works as a stripper/steak chef. We’re always trying to find something. The Pilgrims tried to find it when they crossed the Atlantic. The Civil Rights Movement tried to find it when they marched to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Even now as we stare into the gaping mouth of unmitigated horror, unrelenting fear and heart-wrenching pain, we’re still trying to find it.
We talk constantly about trying to achieve the American dream like there’s one dream shared by everyone, but the dream isn’t the goal. It’s how you try to get there that matters, the fewer explosions, the better.