Mar 5, 2008

Independence Day

Of all the movies I could choose from to represent the United States of America, I would choose the 1996 Roland Emmerich film Independence Day. I do not mean to say that in the sense that Independence Day in any way portrays the traditional values commonly associated with America, nor am I saying that it really has anything to do with America’s origins in a political sense. When I say that Independence Day represents America, I mean to say that it represents the sort of sociopolitical direction that America has taken in recent years, in almost every possible way. Perhaps for this reason it is fitting that the film has proven to be so culturally relevant, and in some ways, it could be a landmark for the new attitude of America’s future generations. It would be folly to insinuate that Independence Day has anything to do with the zeitgeist of the American people of today. Rather, as it stands now, it is actually total propaganda. The plot of the movie establishes itself very simply enough: when extraordinarily large spaceships begin to loom over the atmosphere of Earth, people speculate on their presence before realizing that they contain an entire alien race that goes from planet to planet, wiping out all available resources and then moving on. The aliens have no homeland of their own, require massive amounts of subsistence, and they are dangerous, so the war is on. There are three basic thematic elements to Independence Day that bring about a sense of cohesiveness in its cryptic message. Namely, they are multiculturalism, hedonism, and perhaps most importantly, the triumph of Jewish intellectualism over puerile European brutality. All three of these ideas interweave with each other quite fluidly, so it is important to delineate the well-hidden measures of this film’s very ambitious agenda.

Maybe the strangest part about the multicultural aspects present in the film has to do with a sense of post-Communist paranoia one gets from this blockbuster. Within the first few minutes of the film, a Sky news broadcast is shown with a caption that establishes it as “Soviet central news.” The Soviet Union fell in 1991 and the era of perestroika had come and gone by this point, but nevertheless it is alive and well in the mind of Emmerich and writer Dean Devlin. There is also a map of Russia later in the film where St. Petersburg is referred to as “Petrograd” (that particular name of the city was only used from 1914-1924), and other Russian words on the same map are horribly misspelled. It could have been out of thematic necessity that these decisions were made. The blatant and conscious message of the film has to do with setting relatively minor disputes in favor of uniting for a common good, so these quick shots speak volumes for the imaginary political climate that characterizes the film. In another shot, the Arab nations and Israelis are working together to assemble a militia. There is actually a montage of countries around the world, near the end of the film, receiving messages in morse code about an upcoming invasion on the aliens, and so a sense of teamwork is given through the urgent behaviors of each country’s people. As stated, even the “enemy” countries such as Russia and China are in on the act. But the message of the film has very little to do with global unity. It has a lot more to do with United States hegemony, especially since the morse code they are receiving has to do with America’s great plan and no one else’s. Keeping consistent with the entire multicultural agenda, this sort of global harmony has to be guided by a dominating force. The other countries, regardless of their weapons, technology, and accomplishments, are operating under the American plan with very little influence of their own. It is quite obviously no mistake that the great comeback on the aliens takes place on July 4th, but to call this merely nationalistic propaganda would mischaracterize the depth of the film’s agenda.

Another interesting part of the film is its glorification of the degradation of traditional American values and its emphasis on “if it feels good, do it.” The chief example for this is in the character of Jasmine Dubrow (Vivica A. Fox), the woman Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) wants to marry. Jasmine lives in a very expensive-looking home in the suburbs, she has an illegitimate child who seems very well-adjusted, a successful military soldier wants to marry her, and she also just so happens to be a stripper. It seems as though this issue would cause at least some strife in the subplot. After all, both conventional wisdom and numerous professional studies state that most women working in the sex industry are either addicted to drugs or have had very traumatic past sexual or family experiences and need therapy, or both. Nevertheless, this is a relatively unimportant issue for the film. In the one single scene that seriously addresses the issue, the First Lady misunderstands what Jasmine means when she says she is a “dancer,” so Jasmine clarifies. The First Lady says, “Oh, I’m sorry,” to which Jasmine replies, “I’m not. It’s good money.”

In addition to the unnecessary risqué elements to the film, there is also perhaps an even stranger sort of component to this message of discouraging personal responsibility. Many anti-tobacco organizations cite Hollywood as having a “pro-smoking” agenda in its movies due to the many supposedly garish demonstrations of actors smoking cigarettes and cigars. Independence Day manages to qualify for such a complaint in that it actually glorifies the smoking of cigars. Throughout the film we see Hiller planning victory cigars for the two different air strikes he goes on against the aliens, and he even manages to convince the straight-laced David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) to share a smoke with him after the film’s climax where the aliens are officially destroyed. One of the very last lines in the film involves Levinson looking at the cigar and saying, “I could get used to it.” I would say it is fairly rare to see a film pander to the tobacco lobby so blatantly as to make the characters show such a non-ironic vocal appreciation for smoking. In some ways it is almost admirable to see a film so intentionally backwards in its values.

It is important to know that the idea for Independence Day was concocted at Emmerich’s sister-in-law’s child’s bar mitzvah when a rabbi asked Emmerich and Devlin what they would do if they woke up to find an alien spacecraft the size of the city in the sky. Given the subtle elements of dichotomizing Jewish intellectualism with gentile boorishness that seems to enshroud the film, it is safe to say that the place of the film’s conception had to have left a profound indentation on the execution of the film itself. Throughout Independence Day, the recurring themes of Jewish greatness play a role in plot advancement while non-Jews are treated as complacent go-to men and/or broad-shouldered fighters who rely more on gut instincts than intellectual analysis. These concepts are most importantly exemplified through the Levinsons, David and his father Julius (Judd Hirsch).

Before examining the Levinsons, the two other characters of Jewish origin bear examination for the messages they help contextualize. Harvey Fierstein plays a character named Marty who serves simply as comic relief for the first part of the film. While he is meant to be laughed at for his overbearingly flamboyant behavior, there is an undercurrent of empathy and altruism in his behavior. The main impetus of his presence is him frantically trying to call his relatives and loved ones (even his doctor in the Hamptons) to warn them of an impending alien attack. More interesting than Fierstein’s minor role, however, is in the other Jewish character Captain Jimmy Wilder (Harry Connick Jr.). Before the fighting begins, Wilder curiously gives a humorous speech in homage to the Reverend Jesse Jackson, a fierce proponent of liberal multiculturalism. Wilder is Hiller’s good friend in the Air Force, and apparently he is the best gunman out of all of them as only he is able to target one of the smaller alien ships. Several of the other fleet members are killed by the aliens and the mission is aborted. Wilder decides to outrun the aliens, or something to that effect, and dies in the process. Now, while the previous deaths do not seem to affect Hiller in the slightest, when Wilder gets shot down, Hiller emits a loud, classic, “Noooo!” that seems to devalue the previous casualties by placing all the emphasis on the one fighter of noticeably Jewish origin who dies. While it bears mentioning that Hiller and Wilder do have an established friendship, there is camaraderie between all of the soldiers during the mission briefing that seems to suggest a group unity. One can only wonder if the implications run any deeper than the mere mourning of a fallen friend, especially in a military context where emotions would normally be suppressed as a survival technique.

Beyond the ambiguous ideas of Jewish superiority that the smaller roles present in terms of morality and ontological importance, the main Jewish-focused themes develop as a result of the intellectualism behind David and Julius Levinson who both essentially carry the plot of the film. While there are very minor drawbacks to their personalities, such as David’s tendency to get airsick or both of their incessant argumentativeness and nagging, both characters are nearly flawless in their actions. Out of all the radio analysts working for the government, David Levinson is the one random schmoe who manages to discover that the aliens are exploiting Earth satellites to relay messages back and forth. This sets up the Levinsons’ vital importance to the plot. When they go off to warn the president (Bill Pullman) using high-tech gadgetry for David to contact his estranged wife who just happens to be the advisor for the president, they are allowed to escape with him on a private jet. There, Julius Levinson continues to further the plot by accusing the government of hiding a crashed alien spacecraft in Area 51, which the secretary of defense confirms despite even the president’s dismissal of the idea. The entire notion of an old Jewish man instinctively knowing about Area 51 whereas the actual President of the United States does not is Independence Day’s best achievement by far. Here, the viewer is treated to a showcase of conspiratorial activity in a highly secretive organization that the president is clearly too incompetent to even be aware of. What are the implications of this? When the president marvels to Julius of such cryptic activities, Julius simply responds, “You don’t think they’d spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat, do you?”

The absurdity gets stronger when David actually speaks to the Area 51 scientists who have been observing this alien spacecraft for decades. Apparently the presence of the mothership has repowered the spacecraft, allowing a few days of serious analysis regarding what each button and switch on the main console does. Nevertheless, the scientists are baffled by the computer code that the ship displays on a monitor of some sort. When David Levinson points out in mere seconds that it is most probably an alien code to facilitate the coordination of their ships, as if it requires any kind of serious depth to see this, the main scientist replies, “You’re really starting to make us look bad.” In addition to this nonsensical exchange, another one occurs later on where Julius randomly tells David he might catch a cold, which inspires David with the revelatory idea of uploading a virus onto the alien mothership. Of course, the idea is met with initial skepticism despite its obvious effectiveness. The most interesting aspect of all of this is that even the secretive underground government organizations prove to be just as worthless and incompetent as the mainstream ones. Apparently, the government in all of its various forms can benefit immensely from that certain Jewish je ne sais quos.

The film, by this point, has featured David trumping all of the various government-appointed radio analysts by identifying the exploitation of Earth satellites, Julius making a fool of the president by yelling about Area 51, David demeaning the purpose of the Area 51 scientists by recognizing something as simple as alien communication frequencies, and David coming up with the groundbreaking idea of implanting a virus into the alien mothership, which no other government official was able to come up with. But let’s explore the treatment of gentiles in the film. One of the most offensive examples is in Russell Casse (Randy Quaid), a Vietnam veteran who supposedly has imagined his own abduction by aliens due to post-traumatic stress disorder. As a crop duster, he is uninspired, unhappy, an alcoholic, and the target of verbal ridicule from his own friends. But when the alien mothership arrives, he is able to assert himself by latching onto his intended role in life, not as a crop duster, but as a tactical killing machine employed by the U.S. Government. Clearly, as the film shows, he is unintelligent and incompetent. Even when he tells the commanding general about his experience of being abducted by aliens, he is greeted with condescension. It is only appropriate that he is the martyr who winds up sacrificing his own pathetic life to destroy the mothership at the end.

This sort of idea of “returning to your purpose in life” is also explored in the president. Throughout most of the film, he speaks in the sort of whispery, grunty voice that Bill Pullman is known for, with few exceptions. When he finally gives a rabble-rousing speech right before the final attack, however, the whisperiness of his voice is completely gone. He is now a man with purpose, and that purpose is to be a demagogue that promotes violent warfare. Earlier in the film, he makes the strategic blunder of trying to nuke the mothership, the consequences of which go strangely unexplained. Perhaps to make this wrong right, the President himself decides to become one of the fighting masses, so he volunteers to go into a ship and fight himself. He even acknowledges to the general that his true role is as a fighter, not a strategic leader of any kind.

To make the split between gentiles and Jews even more abundantly clear, literally the only form of Christianity that is represented in Independence Day comes about halfway through the film, where an insane paranoid extremist is sitting on top of a pile of rubble, yelling about the apocalypse while pointing to his bible. Near the end of the film, Julius Levinson is sitting in a multicultural circle, warmly reciting a Jewish prayer in Hebrew. When the newly-fired Secretary of Defense says, “I’m not Jewish,” Julius replies, “Not everyone's perfect.” To the average viewer, this joke would merely be seen as a playful quip and nothing more. With a careful eye, however, this joke actually represents one of the very consistent themes that constantly directs the film. Fighting against the repressive yoke of gentile control, the two Jewish characters manage to intellectually muscle their way out, strategically guiding the gentiles into the right path and using their manpower to save the planet.

There is nothing contradictory about any of the messages in this film. Rather, they fit together very appropriately. The elements of hedonism, multiculturalism, and Jewish superiority combine to form a message advocating what appears to be a Cultural Marxist Globalized McWorld of sorts. This kind of subtle propaganda comes straight from the Free Love Era of the 1960s, molested by a jingoistic neoconservative undercurrent, and put right out for the consumption of the American working class. But what kind of lesson can we derive from a film as technically calculated and devoid of artistic merit as this? Well, as David Levinson shows, the way to defeat the oppressive forces is by using pure information that he injects into a virus. Rather than relying on violence and gunplay, he uses information to ripen the aliens for defeat. It is through this intellect more than anything that David manages to save the world. All information can be used a virus, even Independence Day itself, and if this movie is to remembered by anyone at all twenty or thirty years in the future, it should be for this reason alone.

-Blind Lame OKB

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is not remotely an accident. The real alien masterminds are sitting in some Jewish think tank going over one more time their outline. The stripper with a heart of gold validated by none other than the First Lady is the most desirable woman. The white pilots are only truly accepted and who you know are winners because they can emulate Jesse Jackson. The Jewish father and son are sixty points smarter than the non Jewish scientists. The homosexual is funny and endearing and not an unstable stalker which has been my experience. The only white hero an addicted alcoholic that has found his true purpose and that is better off dead. Could Lena Riefenstahl have done much better? Nothing about this movie including tying itself to the most American holiday the Fourth of July is an accident. When we see fireworks ever again at any county fairgrounds we are to think of David and his dad wearing a yarmulke and the new black American family with a kid born out of wedlock and a sex worker mother.