Monday, July 4, 2011

My Ode to Independence Day

Allow me to give you a completed biased movie review: Independence Day (ID4) is one of the best movies ever made.

I cannot speak objectively about this movie because I love it so much. It is a part of my childhood. Whenever I watch it, I feel like I'm 12 again. I can't see any of its supposed flaws. Let's take a trip back to the summer of 1996...

Independence Day was one of the first movies that rode into theaters on a wave of marketing hype. I remember watching the first commercial for it during the Super Bowl and being hooked. Alien invasion and stuff blows up? I'm there. In the months leading up to July 3rd, I would cross my fingers whenever I went to the movies, hoping they'd show an Independence Day trailer. I would stop and watch all ID4 commercials on TV. I would pore over my Entertainment Weekly to find any mention of the movie. The wait was extra agonizing because I would not be able to see this movie until mid-August.

That summer, my parents were shipping me off to sleepaway camp for 8 whole weeks.  I had zero access to TV, newspapers, and the internet barely existed at that point. We were completely cut off from civilization at camp, which in retrospect was pretty cool, but for a chubby couch potato kid was a nightmare. I was obsessed with ID4, and I hadn't even seen it. I wanted to know more. Everyone at camp was excited about seeing it. A friend from home wrote me a letter. He said a bunch of kids went to see the movie Tuesday night. He called it "good but scary." So it was scary, too? Hmmm. One of my bunkmates who came to camp 2 weeks later had seen it. I tried pumping him for information, threatening to throw his underwear into the lake if he didn't start singing. How did we beat the aliens? How did they find us? All he would tell me was "We gave them a cold."

We gave them a cold??!?! What the heck does that even mean?!?

A week or so later, my mom mailed up my Entertainment Weekly as usual. I almost crapped my pants when I saw the cover. I devoured that article, salivated over every word, and kept that issue tucked away in my cubby for the whole summer. I only had 5 weeks left stuck playing sports and getting fresh air. I could make it.

Walking on the lakefront after a rough hour of canoeing, I spotted a kid reading the tie-in novel for Independence Day. I cornered him, asked politely if I could read it when he was done. He said there was a waiting list. I was 3rd in line. So I waited for an eternity, and a few days later, the book was mine! I read it in a day, memorizing every character and plotpoint. I didn't want to give it back, but other kids were waiting to read it. I couldn't deprive them of this joy. Also, if I didn't return it to its rightful owner, I would gotten my butt kicked. (Sidenote: 8 years later, I was in a used bookstore in Edinburgh, and I found the book!)

Finally, FINALLY, after 8 loooong weeks, I went home to NJ on August 17th. I told my parents that I HAD to see this movie immediately. All my friends had seen it. I had to be next. This was over 6 months of waiting and buildup. So my parents took me to a Sunday morning show on August 18th. We were the only people in the theater. Even though I knew what was going to happen, it was exhilarating watching it go down on screen. I was spellbound.

Independence Day is summer to me. Today movies are given away before they hit theaters. We know every detail of filmmaking thanks to the internet. Directors and actors are more willing to give away once-secret aspects of the film in order to get it more publicity. I wonder if kids today are having a similar experience with summer movies.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed this non-writing post. Do you have any movies from your childhood that will forever remain on a pedastal? Happy 4th of July!


  1. Yes, I will say it is "The Dead Poets' society"

  2. I'm a tad older, so my 12 year old moment came with the original Star Wars. :)

    BTW, *waves from the Chicago suburbs* Hello Fellow Chicago Writer!

  3. I loved this movie so much I lurved it. We sat for freaking HOURS in a line longer than Prince William's new wife's bridal train just to see it. I still to this day want to smoke a cigar after a victory. Someday I will have a victory...someday.

  4. @ Julia - Carpe Diem!

    @ Susan - I also saw Star Wars for the first time in a theater when I was 12 when it was re-released in 1997. I loved it! Though I can't say the same about the prequels. And hello fellow Chicagoan! I've been looking for other Chicago-area writers!

    @A-squared - I think when you finish your WIP, you deserve to kick your feet up onto the desk and smoke a fat cigar. That's a total cigar victory moment!

  5. If you write kidlit (YA or MG), there's a great SCBWI network meeting of suburban writers in Schaumburg (and I'm sure there's one closer to you, if you're in the city). There are lots of Chi-town writers, once you start looking! Keep in touch! (and you're welcome to come to Schaumburg any third Wed of the month!).

  6. Oh, I definitely want to check out that Schaumberg meeting sometime. Maybe I'll force my boyfriend to drive me to the burbs one night. From what I've seen on the website, there is not a regularly scheduled Chicago SCBWI meeting. In the meantime, I'll continue my quest to search out Chicago-area YA writers. :)