Tuesday, November 1, 2016
POTUS vs. the Martians
This is my entry in the Hail to the Chief Blogathon, hosted by Pop Culture Reverie.
1996. The President was Bill Clinton, who would be seeking his second term that same year. And, coincidentally enough, two astoundingly different alien invasion movies, which also featured their own POTUS's premiered. Independence Day was a blockbuster released on July 4th weekend, and later that year for the Christmas crowd, Tim Burton's homage to the Topps trading card series, Mars Attacks! was released.
Both movies featured hostile aliens and a President who had to deal with the invasion. Each reacted differently, as President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) was a stoic and staid leader, while Jack Nicholson played President Dale for laughs as a smarmy twit. (Nicholson also played Art Land, a Vegas entrepreneur wannabe, a role which came off a bit better on film).
In both movies, aliens arrive en masse to invade the Earth. The ID4 aliens are not actually Martians, they come from a far more distant place, and the indication is that the Roswell incident was an advance inspection of the planet. On the other hand, Mars Attacks! clearly shows a horde of flying saucers rising from the red planet.
Whitmore (ID4) is a staunch politician, taking everything in stride, although initially unwilling to declare an emergency (until after the aliens actually are shown to be aggressive). He is a former pilot in the Air Force, and actually takes charge in the attack on the alien mothership. Whitmore is shown to be both a sympathetic character and great family man.
Dale, on the other hand is purely a political opportunist. He is the perfect example of what people think the other party's candidates are like. After the Martians kill off Congress in session, Dale goes on the air assuring the people they still have two out three of the legislative bodies and "that ain't bad." He definitely doesn't score any points for his bedside manner.
If you want a candidate who will do whatever is necessary in the face of extreme hardships, you probably could do worse than vote for Whitmore. However, if you just want a candidate who can make you feel a bit less worried over the future, simply because he says not to worry, then Dale is your man.
This post is unfortunately short because I've been too busy. But fear not. I'm leaving space to do a full-fledged review of both of these movies in the future.