All I want for the 4th is a President with a Soft Heart and a Hard Roundhouse Kick

So, unsurprisingly, I really want to see White House Down.

I was watching Maggie Gyllenhaal on The Daily Show this week. (Incidentally, I think John Oliver is doing a killer job subbing for Jon Stewart. It’s like your favorite social studies teacher went on leave, and the snarky class clown is subbing!)

Anyway, JO asked her why we so love to see movie Presidents get physical, fight the aliens, or growl at a terrorist to “Get off of my plane” (see: Air Force One. No, really: SEE IT.)

Gyllenhaal gave what I felt like was a really weak answer: that she wouldn’t want to have a President who can throw a punch. Maggie, nobody really wants Obama beat the living daylights out of, like, Putin or someone. (Well. Actually.) We’d all be worried he has rage issues or something. But Hollywood is a Dream Factory, and President Rambo makes sense for a few reasons.

1. Because the President of the United States is the leader of the Free World (and Commander-in-Chief of the Military.) That’s hot. Action Hero President is just a way to dramatize that, because paper pushing doesn’t make good movie-making.

2. It doesn’t hurt that the actors who play the President are usually pretty fit and handsome and stuff. Why waste that behind a desk?

3. Here’s the main reason: Because it makes us feel SAFE. Sometimes it feels like there are TOO MANY problems in our country, and that our government is too impotent to get anything done. This genre manages that anxiety in a fun, harmless way.

Anyway, that’s my take. I’m an even bigger fan of the Pres-Rom-Com genre, best exemplified by The American President and Dave; honorable mention to Hugh Grant’s plot-line in Love, Actually. I could try and figure out why those movies are so satisfying: is it the mix of strength and vulnerability that makes Andrew “I AM the President” Shepherd so irresistible? Maybe. Or maybe it’s just because romantic comedies are awesome OH YEAH that’s it.

Happy Fourth, everyone! Grill responsibly 🙂


I much prefer Independence Day President Bill Pullman to his 1600 Penn rendition.

But that’s only because I have a brain and I breathe oxygen.

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