Your 2016 ultimate Fourth of July viewing experience

To the rest of the world it’s just a day, but to Americans, July 4th is “Independence Day.” It’s the day when firearm toting, flag waving southerners unite alongside the scarf-wearing, Prius-driving yankees up north to celebrate our common love of blowing stuff up.


There’s not a whole lot of reflection on things like the Declaration of Independence, the meaning of freedom, or the heroism of our veteran-dead anymore on this holiday of ours; but then again, we don’t spend much time talking about Race Riots, the Trail of Tears or Imminent Domain either. So I guess it evens out.

What we Americans do end up doing on the Fourth of July is the most American thing there is to do these days: A whole lot of nothing.

You might think that’s lazy, but if so, you’re probably over in England or Canada or somewhere else, not doing a whole lot of nothing. In which case, that’s a shame. I’ll be here, sitting around my house, eating unhealthy food and watching all the best jingo-powered TV shows, movies and broadcast specials I can get my hands on.

If you’re like me, and you are looking for something really “merica” to watch on Independence Day, or, if you’re not like me but you want to revel in the once-a-year awesomeness that is “merica,” then let me offer you my top five list of best things to watch on Independence Day. Sure there’s no way to watch all of these shows in one day, not when there’s afternoon naps and leftovers to eat, but since the fourth falls on a Monday this year, you can easily knock these out over the festive weekend leading up to the big day.



Everyone loves to make the Jesus comparison with Superman, even the filmmakers who adapt his story can’t seem to let it go. Let’s not forget, however, that Superman was created by a couple of Jews from Canada. I don’t guess the “from Canada” part matters, but the “couple of Jews” bit is certainly relevant. They didn’t have Jesus on their mind when they conceived Superman’s origins; they were thinking of Moses! But they weren’t even trying to go all-Biblical with it, either. It was the “immigrant” aspect that appealed to them. Like Moses, Superman was a child from one land, raised in another, who lived a very different kind of life than his people. He later left that life and became a kind of savior. That’s Moses and that’s certainly Superman. He’s an immigrant boy from Krypton, raised on a Kansas farm who eventually grows into a savior/hero who stands for Truth, Justice and (initially) the American Way.



Richard Donner’s Superman movies (the first one from 1978 and the proper sequel that never saw theatrical release) nailed the Golden Age aesthetic of the character. Watched together, the first two “Superman” films form one an epic tale (thanks to a story by Godfather’s scribe Mario Puzo) but it’s the first one that really impresses. Donner presents three very different mini-films in the picture; the first act is pure science fiction, with an alien world, far-out technology and a spaceship rocketing away from an exploding planet. The second part of the movie is textbook Americana: Sweeping plains of Kansas, windmills, red barns, endless and unobstructed skies, and as a cherry on top: It’s the 1950’s. The best music, the best cars. It’s perfect. The movie then jumps ahead to “present” day (1978) and we get a cheese-ball comic book movie. What’s more American than hokey science fiction, Marlon Brando, the 1950’s and comic books? The fact that Supes, at one point in the second movie, waves the star-spangled banner around is just a wonderful bonus.


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