Not the national holiday, but the extravagant American movie from the 90’s. It was one of my first strong movie experiences. I loved it! I was ecstatic before even seeing it. I was 12 or 13. My friends and I bought the tickets in advance for the release date to be the first to see it. We felt like such grown ups! We bought giant popcorn buckets and sodas. For 145 minutes the outside world didn’t exist. I was inside the movie. I was feeling what Will Smith was feeling, thinking what Jeff Goldblum was thinking and wished Bill Pullman was my president.
At the end of the movie, when all humans decide to ally and fight against the Alien invasion, there is this very cliche Hollywood scene in which all the armies of the world cooperate: The US with Russia and even Israel with Lebanon on the Golan heights… I remember my teenager French-Israeli heart melting. It was the perfect ending to the perfect movie (I was 12, don’t judge!). This scene was so powerful. It gave me this feeling of hope, of power and unity. It was inspiring and reassuring…It showed me that in times of great danger, human beings can put their differences aside and work together for the greater good.
I grew up and saw many other movies with similar endings… I shed a tear and each time. Beyond borders, religions and colors, people on Earth could get together, kick some Alien ass, and win in the name of humanity and peace. Somewhere in my obviously naive, optimistic and cheesy mind, I thought that this scenario was realistic; that if a threatening spaceship was to land somewhere on our planet, we would all get our shit together and defend our children and our gorgeous planet.
But when I read bout Paris, Beirut, Bamako, Tunis, Sinjar and the rest… I realize that things would go very differently:
NEWS: A threatening gigantic spaceship landed on (pick your city)! No contact with the local authorities has been established yet.
WORLD: Weird and scary, but you know what, maybe they will leave soon. Did you hear about this football scandal???!
NEWS: The Alien leader sent a message to world leaders: He is planning on destroying humanity stealing our oil and water and then laugh at our dead bodies.
WORLD: Gosh! that sounds bad! but you know what? they are far, we have other conflicts to deal with first, and we should let the country where they landed deal with it… This is not our responsibility.
You see where I am going right?
There is a threatening spaceship on Earth, there are many of them actually, and we have been looking at them from afar while distracting ourselves with other things. We have been convincing ourselves that the spaceships were not our problem or just maybe not the most urgent one… and we keep fighting and killing each other. In other words, extremism is at our doors, hatred is spreading like an Alien invasion, women and men are being tortured and killed, others are turned into monsters…but Bibi is not talking to Suleiman on the Golan Heights, and even if they were, Abbas wouldn’t be invited. This is our world.
News: The rumors of young humans joining the Alien cause are spreading like wildfire. All over the planet parents are desperate to hear about their children. It seems that the Aliens managed to contact teenagers telepathically, promised them money and glory for their help in destroying a world that didn’t offer them anything but loneliness and rejection.
We shouldn’t need an extra-terrestrial attack to feel that the core of what makes us humans is under threat. The attack is happening now and we need to face it. When reality catches up with fiction, it’s time to take the lead.
I don’t want to watch Independence Day again. Partly because I don’t want to ruin the memory… but also because I don’t want to find myself envying Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum’s desperate fight against Aliens.