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Over the fourth of July weekend, someone at a gathering I was at, or maybe it was on the Internet, pointed out the oddity of a holiday centered, largely, around watching explosions. We commemorate the birth of our country by watching fireworks blow up.

It is an odd state of affairs. I’m as anti-gun as anybody, but I also had a great time this weekend blowing up little paper tanks with firecrackers inside. Real tanks blowing up in the news equals really bad. Fake tanks blowing up in the driveway equals a good time.

When Mario hits the dynamite in one of the Super Mario Bros. games (That does happen, right? I’m not hallucinating?), we all cheer and rack up the extra points. When a train blows up in Canada, it’s a tragedy.

I’m not trying to make a case for violence in video games or TV being a cause of violence in real life. I don’t think playing “Call of Duty” is going to turn you into a real-life sniper. And that’s not the fight I’m choosing to wage today, anyway. Just wanted to distinguish the debate, make it clear what I’m not debating, even if it’s not so clear what I am debating.

Fireworks are not violent. Dangerous definitely, and maybe that’s the thrill. But it’s a thrill about big noises and pretty colors, not wanton destruction. (Okay, the tanks are a little bit about wanton destruction. But only a little.) It’s just that when you really think about fireworks as a substitute for an explosion, it sucks some of the fun out of it.

And I’m not sure if that’s a cause for concern. Probably not. Just the sort of thing that happens when you think too much.

Maybe I’ll go have some more pie.


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