Sunday, July 4, 2010

Top 5 "Mirror of America" Films

Happy 4th of July, everybody! In honnor of our great nation's 234th birthday, I have listed off the top five films that I think best reflect America.

If America looked in the mirror, which films would it see looking back? There are many films that are good represenetives of American culture, but I have hand-selected the top five that I think do the best job.

5. The Original Godzilla films

How does Godzilla represent America? I say, "how doesn't it?". I couldn't think of a better metaphor for Japan- U.S. relations ( if you're a SNL fan, "Jap-Anus relations"). When American is against Japan, Godzilla is seen as a giant monster destroying Japanese cities, but when America befriends Japan, suddenly Godzilla is saving Tokyo from bigger, uglier monsters and now Godzilla is a huge pop culture icon recognized all around the world. Besides, how much more American can you get than a giant, mutated lizzard who breathes fire? Not very.

4. The Great Dictator

Charlie Chaplin was one of the largest stepping stones for what would eventually transform America into the world's entertainment capital- Hollywood. However, that is not the only thing that ended a Chaplin film in my list. In The Great Dictator, Chaplin plays a goofy interpretation of the world's most fierce dictator- Adolf Hitler, while he was still in power. Chaplin's courageous stand and outrageously large cojones are represenetive of the American attitude that you need to have the balls to stand up for what you believe no matter how strange, bizzare, or in Charlie's case, how ridiculous you look with a tiny stache.

3. American History X

Taking the term "American" into consideration when looking for "American" films is pretty important, so we also have to look at the darker side of American culture. American History X does a wonderful job of pulling back the curtain on one of the darker aspects of our culture- racism. There will always be a natural prejudice that exists between human beings, but it is until we learn how to put that aside and  accept people who who they are, can we truely understand what it means to be "American". This film does a wonderful job of explainging this in a way that is both depressingly accurate and very entertaining.

2. There Will Be Blood

What better way of explainning modern, political, and ecenomic corruption than in the old west? One of the concepts in this film is "money corrupts". When most people hear the term "America" they probably think of a few things. One is Daniel Day-Lewis. Another is probably freedom. But probably, the thing that pops into peoples' heads most often, is corruption. This film is probably the greatest fictional example of American corruption.

1. Independence Day

Being depressed by my list is probably not what you want to be doing this fourth of July. So, for a lighter feel, I have decided to end my list with probably one of the most American films ever. As a general rule, I don't like Roland Emmerich, but there is an exception to every rule. Independence Day has many morals, one being: if you try to invade Earth, America is going to kick your butt, so don't even try, alien scum. But perhaps the greatest message from this film is the message of unity. Sure you can blow up our White House, our Pentagon, and pretty much every major city in our country, but when our freedom is threatened, we don't hessitate to stand together to fight for it, and I think that's why we all gather around the American flag on Independence Day.

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful 4th of July!


  1. It is funny that "There Will Be Blood" makes this list because it is based on a book by the rather inflammatory Upton Sinclair, who, it could be argued, represents the opposite of American thought. And yet, doesn't that seem altogether more American? Interesting column.