Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day

In honor of the holiday, I give you the ridiculously corny yet tremendously affecting speech given by a beleaguered U.S. President (played by Bill Pullman) to rally a final push against invading extraterrestrials in Independence Day. Seeing this clip again reminds me that, as recently as 1999, you could portray the Commander in Chief as the take-charge hero of a summer blockbuster without inviting derisive jeers from mainstream moviegoers. Flash forward to today, and you have Michael Bay's Transformers, an even bigger blockbuster that depicts the U.S. President only fleetingly, as a mostly unseen doofus with bright red socks and a taste for Ho-Hos, while a grimly determined Secretary of Defense (Jon Voight, who played the heroic FDR in Bay's Pearl Harbor) does the heavy lifting. Gee, do you think this says something about how the makers of Transformers view -- and how they assume mainstream audiences view -- the current resident of the White House?


Peter T Chattaway said...

"...without inviting derisive jeers from mainstream moviegoers."

I dunno, I think the audience with which I saw this film was laughing at the movie more than with the movie at this point. Then again, I was in a Canadian theatre. :)

Incidentally, speaking of real-world subtexts, wasn't Independence Day one of a number of films released during the Clinton era in which the First Lady either died or was already dead?

Joe Leydon said...

Well, there certainly was The American President, with a widowed Prez who woos the succulent Annette Bening. But didn't Harrison Ford have a First Lady in Air Force One?

Peter T Chattaway said...

He did indeed. (And his First Lady was a Canadian!)

Alas, I cannot remember what the other examples might have been -- I just remember (with a bit of a memory jog via Google) that the Harper's Index for September 1996 stated:

Number of Hollywood movies released since last October in which a fictional U.S. president is one of the characters : 4

Number of these in which the first lady is already dead or is killed in the movie : 3

Harper's Index being what it is, it doesn't specify which particular movies these were.

Joe Leydon said...

I know Keenen Ivory Wayans was framed -- by Jon Voight! -- for the murder of the First Lady in Most Wanted -- but that was a 1997 movie.

Jeff McMahon said...

This is just typical Michael Bay pandering to his audience - but it shows how low in said audience's estimation the current Prez is. Nothing new, though, since at least this President isn't a murderer as in the Clinton-era Absolute Power.