29 November 2020 1037 Views

Why Thanksgiving Still Matters. Even if you are not an American..

by James Murphy

If you love Movies? Then you should also love the USA. It’s that simple..

 

 

First of all: Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers. Hopefully you are safe and well and celebrating happily.

  • Second: yes, I know. Times are tough. That makes festivals like this all the more important. Not in violation of necessary lockdown measures. But in spirit; honoring the people and rituals you love, when you can, where you can. Though by no means perfect now? As Han Solo says ‘There’ll be another time‘.
  • Third: I am not American. But I am both Irish and English. That kinda makes me an accidental USA citizen in all but location, certificate, testing, Green card, ICE verification…even this spell check is American! And I will not change it today. NOT. TODAY!

So why is one country worth celebrating? Well, why is any nation worthy of that? Because however globalized culture becomes, it is the individual identity and patriotic definitions that uphold that spirit of integration and shared experience. That entails an acceptance of a country’s flaws and failings.

Yes, America is a product of conquest, of colonial clash just like many others. Its ethos, innately, was one of escaping one heritage and making a fortune in a new gold rush. That meant sacrificing civil rights, first American territories and any notion of a welfare state. Those are cold, hard facts.

But if you focus on past imperfections alone? You thereby support their regressive spirit. Moving forward is the key. Not denying what went wrong so much as relishing the flip side. It’s the hero alone against the system who ultimately becomes that new American paradigm.  Movies such as Dances with Wolves and Black Kkklansman help confront the moral challenges from that realization, without blurring out hope.

The USA is primarily about integration, opportunity, progress. It is founded upon an articulated philosophy of utility and shared identity between the boundaries and barriers. Many nations, sustained as one. And in turn, becoming a microcosm of ALL nations, cultures and possibilities.

The nominal link of an English language is just that; a nominal link with the English heritage and a recognition of bridges between countless cultures under one national roof.

(hence, Brits: stop trying to be American; we share a language and a few core values..that’s about it. Get your own patriotism back or just move to the USA!).

The price for the Utopian ideal of American cohesion? An occasional flare up or reminder of the bad old days whereby what divided rather than united was seen as the defining point in identity.

Those are the exceptions rather than the rule. They stand out because they are aberrant and frightening, even if they do reflect residual institutional failure.

Mob rule, violence, racism, corruption, weighted lobbying interests..yes they happen. No, they do not define a great nation. They are a response from the dark to the light and the light fights back. Don’t confuse the forces or become slaves to the divisive hash-tag.

The American dream remains a beacon of light and freedom, worldwide, in the fight against tyranny. Nazis, Soviets, Fundamentalists: they had no chance in the face of the righteous might of America. The world is a safer and better place for that.

Many bemoan the Trump regime as having been contrary to that ethos. Not so. It was a necessary reminder that the complexities remain woven into the fabric of your democratic system and its loopholes.

There were no wars of note started in the last 4 years under the Donald’s rule; the economy did well and any, if not all his ideological changes can be undone via local legislation and executive order under his successor.

Contrary to belief, those processes are shown to be transparent. The Trump years were indeed as scrutinized as any other regime.

Your country is bigger than one man or the POTUS office. Even Obama has his off days (just read his amazing autobiography: will review soon: recommended, no essential political/social/anecdotal text). 

Above all? America = CINEMA! The country is not a melting/boiling/some other sort of ‘pot’. Your cultures are woven into a beautiful tapestry. And tapestry is a visual art that marks a history. Just like movies! Building bridges worldwide through a shared sense of visual expression.

Hollywood defines film every bit as much as US foreign policy and defence tactics define geopolitics. Be it the cerebral art-house or comic book blockbuster product, the movies are an aesthetic and moral force in all our lives.

 

Spielberg! Lucas! Coppola! Scorsese! DePalma! Great directors honed their craft, the American way. I know many of my heroes are screen creations from the USA. Even the British ones (James Bond, romcom era Hugh Grant) depend on American money.

Tony StarkIndiana Jones and Jack Ryan inspired my love of academic study fused to a cinematic and geo-political slant. Perhaps: Even influenced my career and occasional slip of an American accent into a post pint movie themed debate with my best buddies. 😉

 

I can neither confirm nor deny reports that I have drawn on the following at various stages, for a boost / cue in using movies to recharge and go out to face reality all the stronger.

Tom Cruise’s run/ law expertise! Denzel Washington’s commanding presence! Jack Nicholson’s laugh! Eddie Murphy’s smile! Bruce Willis’ creative swear word vocab! Sly and Arnie’s ambition! Tommy Lee Jones’ world weary machismo. Julia Roberts’ hauteur! Susan Sarandon’s sexy street-cred! Jane Fonda’s attitude! Gene Hackman’s growl! Warren Beatty and George Clooney’s politics. Gwyneth Paltrow’s...um..ok that’s enough..a non exhaustive list and you get the message.

I love America. And movies. And American movies. The formats may change (streaming); actors come and go; idioms evolve. But the timeless joy in the embrace of a kinetic, accessible, creative, artistic and commercial landscape is there, always. Much of that starts with the American identity and a legacy that will last forever.

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING. AND GOD BLESS AMERICA. STAY SAFE X

 



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