For the last few years my July 4th celebrations have been limited to watching my favorite holiday film and the wife‘s favorite holiday film; which are 1776 watched on the dusty old laserdisc player (the only complete version of the film in existence, although the blu-ray comes close to it) and ID4 which can be watched on any format as long as it includes surround sound.
For me it’s hard to beat the patriotic zeal of John Adams and his co-conspirators plotting to remove the American colonies from under the heel of their English masters. A good portion of it set to music, and sung quite well by the original broadway cast, directed by the same director. I own and have watched the blu-ray version of this film. It is quite good, but it is not the same film that was released on laserdisc; nor does it have the secondary audio track describing the painstaking effort spent on reassembling the film after it was cut by Jack Warner with a pair of scissors; this after it had been put to bed by the director and assumed finished. The cutting included the removal of a pivotal song in the middle of the film Cool, Considerate Men at the request of President Nixon, personally. The song portrays the views of conservatives of the time who did not want to risk their lives, wealth and property on the very slim chance that Washington would ever be victorious against the British army.
The pro-slavery song Molasses to Rum should be especially poignant this year, given the tragedy enacted in Charleston a few weeks ago. History is a fine teacher, if you don’t deafen yourself to its advice.
On a lighter note, the wife loves ID4. When the pool was functional, she was frequently alone in the living room watching it while the rest of us retired to the pool. One year she begged a projector from friends and we watched it on the patio from the pool. That was a good summer. The best part of the film for me is the scene where Houston, having been destroyed by the aliens earlier in the film, is nuked in a defensive attempt to destroy the invading aliens. Any film that destroys Houston twice is a watchable film in my book. Sorry Houston residents; the truth hurts, I know.
A sequel to ID4 is slated for release next Independence Day (2016) titled Independence Day Resurgence which they shorten to IDR. I don’t relate to that title very well. Maybe the film will make up for it. (Editor’s note: It didn’t)
The most common form of Independence Day celebration, fireworks, are only a memory for me. As a kid it was my favorite holiday because of the fireworks. We’d always have a decent personal show set up in the street in front of our house, or in our back yard. I constructed models just to blow them up with fireworks on the 4th of July. I remember fondly the first time Leoti paid for a firework display, laying in the middle of the football field watching the fireworks go off overhead. I also remember many a summer where I temporarily deafened myself standing too close to explosives when they went off.
Another point of history that should be instructional.
As my disability has progressed, sensitivity to noise has increased. Any loud noise can set off vertigo quite easily. Flashes of light are painful, not enjoyable. Combustion fumes alone have been known to send me into a vertigo spell, so the great American pastime of trying to set the neighborhood on fire on Independence Day occurs without my active participation.
In Austin the city display is the only display allowed by law, a fact I find ironical as well as sensible. There is always a neighbor who defies the ordinance and sets fireworks off anyway, usually several of them. The police and firemen are kept running all night long responding to calls. At least the region is well watered this year. Won’t be any county-wide grass fires set off by fireworks this summer.
Oatmeal’s America Explained to Non-American’s on a Facebook friends wall inspired this introspection. The page features a whole fleet of images, you’ll just have to go to his site and soak up the glory that is America. Looking back, as I’ve alluded to twice already, I wonder why the obvious desperation of July 4th celebrations isn’t apparent to more Americans. We so desperately want to demonstrate to the world how happy we are being free. One would think that the joy of real freedom would be enough, if only we know what that elusive thing really is.