Sunday, July 04, 2010

"Today, we celebrate our Independence...That's it, just Independence..."

Bill Pullman's big, iconic line from the movie "Independence Day," has always bugged me. And today seems like the perfect day to talk about it.

The line is:

"Today, we celebrate...our Independence Day!"

Pullman says it as the President to rally the troops. Then everyone cheers and goes up in fighter plans to speciously kill supposedly technologically-superior alien beings who, for some reason, have never heard of Norton Utilities.

But the line is FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED. Because we don't celebrate our Independence DAY on July 4th. We celebrate our Independence. Period. As in, becoming independent from Britain.

To celebrate our Independence DAY implies there was a single day in which we became an independent nation, and each year, we go back and commemorate that one day in which we became independent.

That's a really fucking stupid way to approach the holiday. The amazing thing isn't that we declared independence. Anyone can declare that they are independent. It's that we actually won a fucking war to make ourselves independent. And that's, of course, what we're celebrating. The founding of our nation, not the signing of a piece of paper.

Come on...anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of American and European history knows that independence didn't happen in a single day. We declared independence from Britain on July 4, 1776, but it wasn't like independence was immediately conferred on the Colonies with the signing of that document.

The line even sounds better if you drop that word.

"Today...we celebrate...OUR INDEPENDENCE!"

Now that's rousing. The only reason to throw the word "day" in there is so you have one of those cheesy lines you can put in a trailer where a character actually says the name of the movie in the movie. And no one really likes that, ever. The only movie I can think of where that moment works is "Back to the Future," when Doc Brown says "Marty, we're sending you BACK TO THE FUTURE," and even then, it only works because (1) Christopher Lloyd sells it and (2) the line, out of context, seems like it doesn't make any sense, but then you hear it in context and it does.

Posted via email from Lon Harris

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