“What does America mean to you,” a reporter asks Jared Leto, actor and lead singer of rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars. A chorus of thousands people yell “Happy Birthday America” while fans wait behind the barricades. Various reporters explain the band project’s on their newscasts. On his phone, Leto asks some people to say hello to the reporters of Good Morning America.
On HLN, the reporter compliments Leto, stating that it’s an ambitious project but she believes they can pull it off.
Filming with his phone, he asks a bandmate the time. He’s told two minutes. The state (New York) is pictured as well as the time (11:58). In Utah, at 3:35, people reenact a war battle. They raise the American flag in victory as they ride on their horses. A message asks people to screen shot their favorite moment and post it on social media. A man in Michigan shows off his Yogi Bear gold-plated necklace. In California, a twelve-year-old boy throws a pitch during his Little League game.
In Washington D.C., at 4:54 pm, Donald Trump gives a speech with wife Melania at his side. On screen, while people bow and attend church, a message states that there are 313 religions in the United States. In Texas, at 10:32 am, a man, with the flag draped around him, looks up at the camera.
A message states that 99% of Americans were descendants from immigrants. A news report announces that North Korea has filed a missile. In California, at 6:54 pm, a fact states that although the grizzly bear is the official animal, the last known sighting of one was in 1924. As a man practices a jump in Ohio, it’s stated that “25% of the prison population is in the United States.” A dancer rehearses in New York. On the news, it states that 114 people received their citizenship. A plane flies near a mountain in Vermont. A fact states that most people in the United States don’t know all the lyrics to the anthem.
A teenage boy dances in front of house in Illinois. Several other facts click by in black-and-white. On his phone, actor Danny Trejo wishes America a happy birthday. LeBron James laughs as he films himself on his phone. A monster truck jumps at a rally in California. Kylie Jenner, Kendall Jenner and Khloe Kardashian film themselves on their phones. A man rock climbs in Colorado. People jump out of a plane in Virginia.
Another fact states that Americans look at their phones 150 times a day. A little boy cries in Connecticut. Police hit a car during a chase on the expressway in California. The next fact states that the pledge of allegiance was written as an advertisement for a flag company. Over the faces of an Arabic, Caucasian and African-American people, the fact there is no official language of the United States. Although, it states, 500 languages exist alone in America.
In Idaho, two teenage boys jump off a cliff and into the ocean. It states the deadliest jobs in America are pilot, fisherman, policeman, fireman and president. A man fires off his gun in Arkansas. As a female naval officer salutes, the fact states that “1.6 million veterans are women.” Babies are born in hospitals in California, South Carolina and Oregon. In Michigan, a man wants to take care of his family. A woman counts her tips in Louisiana. A woman in Delaware says “being American means everything to me.” A Missouri man believes that we can become a better nation. A woman in Utah says she has “hope that America can change for the better.” A second Michigan says “possibility.” A woman in Washington D.C. says “America is the greatest it’s ever been.” A Nebraska man says that “America is going through a tough time but I’m sticking by her.”
People run a marathon in Alaska. Two little girls dance in Michigan. A Oklahoma man in prison says that he “chose to steal” and adds “that at 11 years old, you shouldn’t have to do that.” Funerals honor fallen soldiers in Indiana and Connecticut.
On his phone, Leto says “there are only a couple of hours left.” In a helicopter, he gives the pilot a thumbs up. They fly over fireworks. It says that every day, hundreds of thousands of people show pride, love, faith, adventure, excitement, liberty, victory, survival, Bernie (Sanders), laughter, sunset, sunrise, skill and determination.
Magenta fireworks bloom into a flower in view of the Statue of Liberty. Several teenage young women celebrate with sparklers. People watch fireworks from their balconies and backyards.
Leto says he wasn’t able to capture everything but “what a day it’s been.”
Amidst some of the violent rhetoric of the 2016 election in the United States, bases were pandered to and split into demographics. Every couple of months, the New York Times writes another story about a Trump voter stuck in a blue state. Facebook and Twitter are dealing with the fallout for allowing bots and racism go unchecked on social media. Congress passes a draconian tax cut despite 55% of people disapproving it, according it to NBC News. The every day American doesn’t seem to factor into any of the reports or decisions.
Jared Leto wants to know what the average American thinks and documents it. People are represented from nearly every state (Hawaii is the most glaring omission, given the history). California and New York have the most exposure overall. However, the Midwest is front and center. Motorcyclists ride down a street in suburban Michigan (Hazel Park, perhaps?) Teenage boys leap off a cliff in Idaho. A teenage boy skateboards in Ohio. The southern states are shown their adventurous side, although an Arkansas man shoots his gun and laughs while sitting on his tractor.
Despite the constant news of rights slowly being chipped away and weekly political scandals, people have hope. They think America can recover and be herself again. In four minutes, Leto is able to give snippets into people’s lives who have been ignored by the media. He steps up in a way that a major newspaper reporter hasn’t by helping to make their voices loud and broadcasting it on one of most utilized publishing platforms in the United States: Youtube.
Director: Jared Leto Year: 2017
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