Fireworks in Pop Culture: The History of a Cliché

Artists from Alfred Hitchcock to Katy Perry have exploited firecrackers' easy symbolism

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Focus Features

Physics and chemistry make fireworks go boom with pretty lights. But staring up into a night sky, watching luminance blossom in vivid colors, it's easy to think of other things. Love, perhaps. Triumph. Maybe patriotism.

At least, that's what filmmakers, songwriters, and pop-culture creators of all kinds hope is the case. Fireworks have become cheap shorthand, go-to symbols of all things epic and explosive and powerful. For the Fourth of July, we've compiled some of the more egregious examples though the years of how the humble firecracker has been used and abused:

What other movies, songs, or TV shows have committed crimes against fireworks? Leave a comment.

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Spencer Kornhaber is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers pop culture and music. He was previously an editor at Patch.com and a staff writer at OC Weekly. He has written for Spin, The AV Club, and RollingStone.com.

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