Wednesday, 13 January 2016

America Saves The Day - Again

Before I go on, let me just reiterate the fact that I love America and Americans.

Now that’s out of the way, I have a complaint.

Last year, I went to the cinema with Mrs PM to watch San Andreas, a spectacular disaster movie full of earthquakes, tsunamis and The Rock (aka Dwayne Johnson). I loved the film and scoffed my popcorn with a huge smile on my face…until the end.

My enjoyment was stained by the final scene when we saw our hero hugging his family while standing in Golden Gate Park looking over the ruins of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco.

The dialogue went something like this:

Carla Gugino: What happens now?

The Rock: We rebuild.

The camera pans to the ruined bridge and we see the Stars and Stripes unfurl over the disaster area as if that makes everything alright.

I have a request for Hollywood.

Please cut the jingoism out of your movies.

There – I’ve said it.

If I have annoyed any American readers then I apologise but that’s the way I feel.

The United States of America is not the only country in the world. There are 196 more, including my own and to be honest I don't find myself emotionally charged by the American flag flowing in the sky after yet another disaster has been averted.

It's just not necessary.

I can understand that a lot of American citizens are very patriotic but I do wonder how many of them cringe like I do when a movie is ruined by quotes like:

“God Bless America” 

and when Superman stands for “Truth, Justice and the American Way”.

A lot of movies portray the President of the United States in the new role of World President. The worst example for me is a movie that I have ripped to shreds before on this blog. The very title irritates me:

Independence Day

Ignoring the fact that America defeats the aliens on 4th July, we have to put up with America leading the way and the British seemingly doing bugger all until the big American plan pops up:

The special effects were marvelous but the entire story was a joke.

Also I love super hero films and the latest instalments featuring the Hulk, Iron Man and Thor are fantastic. But I have a slight problem with Captain America because he personifies this jingoism. Don’t get me wrong; I like the character but I would have preferred him to be called Captain Shield or something like that.

If any American readers are still reading, can I ask a question?

Does jingoism actually make a film more enjoyable?

Would audiences flock away if the American flag wasn’t unfurled in a blaze of patriotism with a square jawed hero uttering an iconic phrase about freedom, America and justice?

And I have another complaint: why does the bad guy always seem to be English?

Is there something about the English accent that makes us sound like psychopathic lunatics?

Growing up, I was always confused by the comparison between British films and American ones. I concede that in the past we have added our own elements of patriotism, particularly in the decades following the war, with our stiff upper lips, drinking a cup of tea as bombs explode in the vicinity.

Such scenes are usually missing from our films or are completely ridiculed by the likes of Monty Python:

And when we have a national disaster, for example in the brilliant 28 Days Later, there is not even a hint of jingoism with Britain saving the day and defeating the zombie-making virus.

I suppose James Bond has always been quintessentially British and I suppose there are elements of patriotism in his behaviour – and yes – he always saves the day. However, I prefer to think of him as a sex mad psychopath. 

I don’t honestly feel patriotic and have no desperate urge to wave my Union Jack when he vanquishes yet another villain with maximum prejudice.

You may disagree. If you do, let me know.

Thankfully, I think things are changing. Some of the amazing TV shows coming out of America are removing this image of Americans saving the day and involve flawed Presidents, evil politicians and the hero not always saving the day or at least if he does, he does so at a price.

That’s what we like over here in the UK.

More importantly that’s what I want.

Let’s have more of the same please.

Actually, as a footnote, I hear that there is a sequel to Independence Day this year. There is a part of me that is hoping that this time they do it right and don't make it all about America - apparently the rest of the world suffered too. I am a big science fiction geek and I know that it will be popular over here, despite this whinging post.

All we need to defeat the aliens is Jack Bauer and James Bond working together in the name of Planet Earth.

That should sort those alien invaders out.

You know it makes sense,


Elephant's Child said...


joeh said...

I never saw the earthquake movie. I was a bit put off by the clip used to advertise the film. With all hell breaking loose, buildings crumbling and probably hundreds of thousands of people dying and the deafening sound of destruction, our hero, The Rock yells, "EVERYBODY DOWN!!"

I don't know about the English being villains, I want to know why every cleaning product sold in this country is sold with an English accent.

I do agree with you about the flag and saving the world all the time thing.

Superman is however for sure an American. Well actually he is an undocumented alien, but when you can fly and bend steel with your bare hands, we tend to look the other way.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

That's all that needs to be said.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Joeh,

I remember that bit - obviously people didn't think about "getting down" until The Rock told them to.


mmm - Every cleaning product needs to be sold with an English accent? Well that means we can damage America but sell you something that can clean up after the mess we make.

Superman is from Krypton and lives in Metropolis; as far as I know, Metropolis ISN'T in America.

So there!




joeh said...

As I said, "Well actually he is an undocumented alien, but when you can fly and bend steel with your bare hands, we tend to look the other way."

And if there was a Metropolis, it would be in the USA.

River said...

I've never been a fan of Truth, Justice and the American way. I always yell out, what about the rest of the world! There's more to this planet than just America.
I don't mind them being patriotic, but I do object to them thinking America is all there is. And I do concede that not all of them think that way.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Joeh,

Metropolis is too sensible a name for the UK - so maybe you are right.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

America is actually a great place with some of the nicest people I have met.

Some of them think I'm Australian though.