Strange Patriotism: The American Flag's Weirdest Moments On Film

By Josh Tyler 2009-07-04 00:58:22discussion comments
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Old Glory, she gets around. The American flag is no stranger to movies, in fact by now it probably deserves a star on the walk of fame. Sometimes it's a backdrop for an important moment as in Patton, other times it's a rallying cry as in Flags of our Fathers. But there are movies you expect the American flag to show up; In films about patriotism, war, government, or even the occasional olympic movie like Miracle; and then there are the places where you just wouldn't think it'd be found.

So what are some of the weirdest places the Red, White, and Blue has made its presence known? Here's a quick look back at some of the mostt extremely odd cameos from the Star Spangled Banner.


Flag Burning Is Patriotic In The Rocketeer
The Rocketeer is the ultimate in the “hero poses in front of the flag” genre. In the film, Cliff Secord grabs a gun and poses hero style in front of spotlights and a waving American standard before hitting the gas and shooting into the sky. In the process he sets off a Rocketeer-powered flag burning, but it's ok since he's on his way to fight Timothy Dalton who, is in fact a Nazi and really has it coming. In the context of The Rocketeer, soaked in golden age nostalgia, it's blatant manipulation but also weirdly appropriate. Make sure you salute as flames shoot out the Rocketeer's ass.


Stars And Stripes Get Sexy In DOA: Dead Or Alive
Rocky used the flag as a cup, but it's put to a much more pleasant purpose in DOA: Dead or Alive when Jaime Pressly uses it to cover her nipples. She's seen fighting and flaunting in a patriotic, American flag bikini. It's not subtle commentary as much as she's the film's obligatory American character and obviously, all Americans walk around wearing stars and stripes regalia. Even without the flag on them Jaime Pressly's bosom deserves a salute, with the stars and stripes on them her body is a national landmark.


Decepticons Hate America In Transformers 2
Michael Bay's never been a particularly subtle filmmaker, so of course when he wants to make us hate someone he goes for the something shallow and obvious. In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen the American flag makes a bizarre and gratuitous cameo on top of a bridge, just so Starscream can land next to it and kick it over. Sure the Decepticons' real goal is to capture energy, but first they're going door to door kicking over symbols of our country, for fun.


Rocky Protects Himself With Patriotism In Rocky IV
That the American flag might show up in a movie in which Sly Stallone devotes himself to punching communism is no shocker. What's unexpected is that he takes the whole patriotism thing even further. Rocky loves the flag so much that wears it, fashioning his trunks out of the stars and stripes so that, presumably, he can keep his patriotism close to his balls. Who needs a cup when you've got the thirteen original colonies protecting your nuts from Ivan Drago's punch?


Color Coordination In Spider-Man
If The Rocketeer is the perfect example of how to do the gratuitous hero poses in front of flag shot right, then both Spider-Man and Spider-Man 3 are perfect examples of how to get it all wrong. Unlike Superman, Spidey has never really been associated with rah-rah flag waving and the film itself is hardly rooted in Americana or the us vs. the world mentality of something like Rocky IV. Yet both films feature end shots in which Spidey poses in front of the flag for no particular reason. They both come out of nowhere, as if we're supposed to stand up and put our hands over our hearts just because Spider-Man's outfit and the flag contain some of the same colors.


Old Glory Provides Fuel In Easy Rider
You wouldn't expect to see excessive patriotism in a movie about dirty, counter-culture, motorcycle-riding hippies; but Peter Fonda's character calls himself Captain America and not only wears more than his fair share of flag memorabilia, he's also painted his motorcycle up in red, white and blue. His gas tank is a motorized pledge of allegiance waiting to happen, and it's also where he stashes the cash he and Dennis Hopper plan to use in starting their new future. Alright maybe Captain America's trying to be ironic with the whole stars and stripes getup, but there's also something perfect in using the American flag not only for fuel but also to hide your ill-gotten cash. Even hippies like oil and capitalism.


America Gets A Sponsor In Idiocracy
In the future of Idiocracy, politicians have traded in their business suits for stars and stripes jumpers and the American flag has traded in its colors for sponsorships. President Camacho proudly rides through town clad entirely in flag, while on his bike waves old glory… except the stripes aren't just colors they're the names of sponsors. Later when Not Sure, the smartest man in the world takes over as president, he decks out in a flag vest and proudly shows off his patriotism, presumably by making “Ow My Balls” a national holiday. Like everything in Mike Judge's future, the flag has gotten really, really stupid.


Death By Flag In The Hills Have Eyes
The American flag is frequently used to inspire violence but it's rarely actually been used to commit it. In the 2006 version of The Hills Have Eyes though, it's used as a weapon. While under attack by mutants, one of the besieged family members grabs a small American flag and plunges it through the throat of a freak. It's a blatant and obvious political statement by the movie's French director Alexandre Aja which, probably didn't belong in a horror film. Still, at least our flag went down fighting.


The Flag's A Lifesaver In xXx
In xXx, the American flag is more than just a symbol of freedom, it's also a form of transportation. In the movie's somewhat limp-wristed finale Vin Diesel uses an American flag parachute and a grappling gun to transport him from a speeding, American muscle car onto a fast moving speedboat in the middle of the river. I guess there's supposed to be something patriotic and exciting about the symbolism there, of rebellious Xander Cage rushing off to save the world from bad guys using American muscle, but in a dumb action movie like this one it's more than unexpected.


Patriotism Enters Earth Orbit In Superman IV
Superman and the American flag to go together like peanut butter and jelly but in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace they took their patriotic love affair into space. There, on the moon, Superman fights Nuclear Man for the right to um… fly our moon flag on a straight flagpole. By the time it's over Old Glory is down in the dust and so is Superman who, might have won the fight had he not turned his back to worry over the Stars and Stripes. He's done in by overt patriotism!
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