For many Americans, July 4th weekend is often considered the second unofficial kickoff to summer (because one kickoff is never enough). This includes a number of iconic American staples such as BBQ’s, swimming pools, vacations, ice cream sandwiches, and enough alcohol to fill a semi truck trailer. As far as Hollywood is concerned, Independence Day means, well, Independence Day movies in 3D, large explosions in 3D, scantily clad women in 3D, gigantic alien spaceships in 3D, automobile-sized shape shifting robots in 3D, and enough alcohol to fill an entire semi trailer (preferably with an Autobot symbol slapped on the side.)
As you might have inferred from the opening paragraph, I’m writing this on the heels of the release of Independence Day: Resurgence (podcast review coming soon) and my unhealthy affection of the Transformers preBay. (Not to be confused with eBay). That’s not to say I despise the Bayformers or his color-by-number formula of 101 ways to destroy a city, but I much like every other Autobot lover on the planet prefer the animated versions by a country mile.) Regardless, both of the above franchises represent Americana, and not just because they blow things up real good or contain machines that go really really fast.
I mention the two properties since one of the themes that resides through them both, outside of seeing how tight of clothing you can squeeze a Victoria Secret supermodel into, is that of freedom. You don’t need to look further than Optimus Prime; the red, white and blue metal-kicking hero who’s notable for his quote, “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings”. In addition to the fact I would vote for Mr. Prime before any of the current 2016 presidential candidates, his view of liberty proves to be oddly appropriate for today’s global state of affairs.
Over the last few years, the world, including the United States, has found itself in the middle of a Radical Islamic uprising of hate which commits acts of terror and murder on all whom don’t bow down to their twisted beliefs. It’s a sad (although more so frightening time) we all live in, and by all I don’t mean just us ‘Merica residing folk. The peril is real and something which poses a threat to the entire global community, not just in the physical sense, but to the core of what makes us uniquely different than any living thing on the planet, our humanity. Our capability to experience a wide array of emotions from hate to love makes us a special species, but it’s our capacity for compassion, empathy, understanding, and the desire to help others despite our flaws and differences that makes us truly extraordinary.
Outside of being able to witness what it might look like to send a giant laser beam down through the roof of the White House, the film Independence Day – and to a lesser extent it’s sequel – also gives us a glimpse at people of all races, creeds and backgrounds coming together to eliminate a common and deadly enemy. Many might argue even those causing harm to the greater good can be saved, can be talked to and convinced out of their nefarious ways. Unfortunately, it is often painful to admit there truly is evil in the world, and that evil resides among us, intermingling among our own species.
Look at it this way, cancer is technically an abnormal grouping of cells which can develop in our own bodies causing havoc, destruction, and in many cases death, should they be allowed to grow unchecked. There is no talking to it and no negotiating with it. The only way to stop it is to kill it while in the body or extract it completely. In many cases, a parallel can be made the fight against extreme religious-based terrorism is quite similar. Humanity is the body, and the cancer (Radical Islamic extremists) within it must be killed before it kills it’s generally peaceful host from the inside out.
Going back to Optimus’ above-mentioned quote, I couldn’t agree more with the big metal lug that all conscious and self-aware intelligent life should be afforded the right to live their lives without the threat of death by another murderous constituent of said lifeforms whom feel they’ve cornered the market on deciding the fate of others based on their faith, beliefs, color of skin, preference of partner or penchant for material goods. (Hell, it’s not a life worth-living if you can’t proudly display your first generation Dinobot collection next to the fine China in the dining room hutch.)
Arguably, one of the most endearing aspect of Prime – not counting his soothing baritone voice provided courtesy of Peter Cullen – is his willingness to save every spark of life right down to the floppy-eared rabbit sitting in the middle of the busy highway. At the same time, he has enough common sense to know when it’s time to crush wickedness when it’s become an unmanageable risk to the greater good of free living beings.
If you didn’t think I could connect the Transformers and Independence Day franchises to the deeper topics of freedom and humanity, consider your mind blown. (Whether it’s for the better or worse is subject to debate.)
All that being said, the biggest takeaway I hope all my fellow Outlaws pull from this mini-commentary is to continue living life and enjoy the freedoms that that you were blessed with as a human born on this beautiful rock floating in the universe. The minute we stop doing that, you know who wins. On the same token, it’s important to stay vigilant and be aware of the events transpiring in our world. The events of Paris, San Bernardino, Belgium, Orlando, and Istanbul can happen to us… worse, to the people we love.
So this 4th of July, whether you are lounging at the pool, grilling burgers to a charcoal like color, or watching mankind vanquish an alien race by uploading a virus to their ship via a Best Buy Black Friday laptop special, remember Independence Day doesn’t have to be an America only event. Per the famous words of Optimus Prime, we all have a right to celebrate.
On that note… “Humans and Autobots, roll out to a safe and happy July 4th weekend.”