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Great Movies Guys Won't Never See -- BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY
The terrible legacy of Vietnam was its' permanent removal of the thinking person's trust in government. The youth were indoctrinated into believing America was perfect. We didn't think about how damaging this could be to a young person who has yet been given the opportunity to fully develop any kind of world view, because the American perspective WAS a perfectly viable world view. Up until the 1960s, not only was America undefeated in battle, it was relatively unapologetic, because there were very clear reasons why we had suited up. The mainstream was truly that...a stream. A long, unforking highway of mutually agreed rites of passages. You celebrated the 4th of July, you loved America, you played little league, you ate hot dogs and apple pie, you accepted with great pride when a coach said KILL KILL KILL YOU WANT TO BE THE BEST DON'T YA???? and you juxtaposed it with saying Grace at the dinner table without bothering or daring to think about it. Something had to happen to you that was quite profound before you diverted from this formula. We were winners, we were righteous, and due to that, we were positive that what we were doing was right. Why would John F. Kennedy request that we do anything -- after all -- that was anything but?
This is the kind of film that can only be viewed by those who can handle it, meaning...those who know the difference between indictment and over-flattery. Choose over-flattery. This film is about how the United States in fact is so great that its' value is being sold short by the few diseased sociopathic sh-itheads that we keep putting in Republican Congress...people who have never fought for their country, people who have in fact worked to side-step our country. First they corroded it, and then they tried to get the poor to pay for it. Their time in the House and the Senate is their first foray into household chores, and they are as incompetent as they are eager to blame their help. We are a big part of the problem, because the formation of a mainstream was as convenient for our every day living as it was the people who counted on it. We were cows in a slaughterhouse. Born on the Fourth of July is alot more than a tragedy, it's about the consequences of taking anybody outside of yourself as the authority of yourself.
Ron Kovic wholeheartedly believed in being the best, just like they manipulated him into believing, to the point that he didn't have to be drafted into Vietnam, he went and enlisted in the Marines. Because the Marines were the best. Not only was he going to fight, he was going to be the best at it. Tom Cruise plays Ron Kovic, the author of the book and co-writer of this film's screenplay. When this film is over, you will realize that Cruise is an actor every bit as much as Thomas Edison was a scientist. You won't be made to forget the Scientology stuff, but you will be hard pressed to hold it against him.
Kovic went to Vietnam and his life went down in flames. First he accidentally killed a friend of his who was running at him with a knife in the middle of an ambush. Then his platoon ended up firebombing what turned out to be a "hamlet"-- see, the Viet Cong would use villagers as shields, and on many occasions when the Americans would torch a target with tons of enemy soldiers firing at them, they would then move in and discover dead or dying civilians along with those dead soldiers. And last but not least, Kovic, in the midst of another ambush, would become paralyzed from waist down as he tried to fight back with a bullet in his foot.
So that's the first half of Tom Cruise's performance...optimistic good ol' American boy, the first in his class, the first on the wrestling mat, the first in the hearts of a family with five children and the ever-presence of the Lord. During which is something that seems like only a subtext...his tenuous relationship with Kyra Sedgwick...something that all this brainwashing has made him virtually blind to experiencing to the fullest. It was always something to put off until later, and thus the song "Moon River", like Sedgewick, comes to symbolize a life that it all caused him to pass by. It's sadder than shit, and that's what Born on the Fourth of July is -- an awesome, horrible, beautiful, miserable, great and terrible portrait of the American male who truly loved his country. It's an indictment of those that call themselves war presidents after doing everything they can to ditch service, and then go up there with a smirk and try to tell the press that the very important questions they just asked about all this was in fact stupid.
When Kovic returns from battle, he's faced with the shit and piss of the aftermath. In the war hospital, he's left in the hands of a whole bunch of medics and caretakers who became medics and caretakers in the first place for the explicit purpose of getting out of combat. This means these wounded veterans are left in the care of activists. They don't believe in the war in the first place or they would have been out there like Kovic. As Kovic screams for help and respect, he's met by medics who go "F*CK your Vietnam!"
Then Kovic goes back home in a wheelchair and his two best friends -- one was hit by Agent Orange and is no longer his old self. Then, and this is what will first truly set off Kovic, the other friend, who ditched service, is well and fine and still resents the cries of "you're a pussy" he heard when everyone else, guys like Kovic, were first zealously signing up.
Kovic is suddenly furious, left on the offensive as he's faced with people who oppose the war, who went off to college or went off to hang with hippies, who aren't going off to serve their country when they "need them". His only joy is fact comes when he's honored at a parade in town...a parade that has been attended by people so they could piss on it, just as much as it's attended by those who came to honor the soldiers.
His parents, like most religious parents, turned out to have five kids in the first place because they wanted to be parents of little kids forever because it's simpler than raising young adults. Their supposedly loving and moral household provides zero guidance and understanding for those who become older than eighteen, and thus when it comes to guys who come home in wheelchairs from Vietnam...
Kovic is unapologetic in what he did until he meets a Marine who fought in World War II who chalks up his anger at protestors to being a SORE LOSER!!! He tells him -- you lost, and now you got to deal with it. Shit!
Kovic hears the screams of the babies in the hamlets when babies coo in their mothers' arms at the parades. And those fireworks! What a terrible idea it was to have fireworks shooting off along the parade route of guys whose nightmares are wrapped up in the loud multiple POPS of firefights in jungles.
And then Kovic goes to Mexico, where he finds a whole bunch of other wheelchair-bound veterans, many of them not only crazy but criminal, such as Willem Dafoe. They encounter women who will look at them, spend time with them, but every once in a while...will rob them because they have legs to run away with and their marks don't.
Kovic comes back home and helps the protestors. He tries to protest at campuses and is almost tear gassed. He is physically pulled from his chair and stomped on when he tries to infiltrate the Republican National Convention in 1972 -- a whole bunch of a fat patsy men in suits who want more like Kovic to die for them for nothing.
Ron Kovic's fanatical pro-American...and then equally fanatical anti-American stances...are at long last brought to the middle. Born on the Fourth of July is a two-and-a-half hour attempt by Ron Kovic to...well...say what he really wants to say...
He wants America to know that a nation of people who will die for their nation...deserve better.