Well, the Red Dawn remake has finally been released ((I’m pretty sure there’s a law on the books in the US somewhere that every piece of IP from before 2005 has to be rebooted or remade, so it was inevitable)), and it’s fucking terrible. Seriously, at just 11% on Rotten Tomatos, it apparently ranks among the worst films in recent memory. I say “apparently” because I haven’t actually seen it; don’t worry though, I’m still capable of discussing it more intelligently than any of the people we’re about to examine.
First up is “Red Dawn shows nostalgia for Cold War mindset,” which features the classic Global Times trademark (garbled regurgitation and a total lack of self-awareness) mixed with a twinge of bipolar insanity. Let’s watch:
The 1984 cult classic Red Dawn did not stint in its demonization of Soviets, which was prevalent during the Cold War era.
But two decades later, Hollywood is still stuck in the clichéd storytelling of beautifying itself and oversimplifying the world.
Hollywood filmmakers never seem to tire of telling stories of the US saving the world from the brink of collapse, while the opponents are wicked villains, be they Chinese or North Koreas.
In Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, good and evil are also in sharp contrast: A US agent desperately endeavors to save the world, while a Russian lunatic uses every means to instigate a nuclear purging of the Earth.
The Avengers probably reaches the peak in this regard: A long list of US heroes is assembled in the movie to kill evil and save Earth.
Apparently, Hollywood blockbusters have a profound impact on the US audience, given their huge box office takings. The thread bare plots in a world divided between devils and angels reinforce how audiences look at the world.
It’s hard to know where to even start here, but I guess crushing irony is as good a place as any. Hollywood is certainly guilty of pushing out gluts of oversimplified action films with black-and-white good vs. evil plots, but if any other nation’s cinema is more guilty of this, it’s probably China. There are exceptions ((I recently saw City of Life and Death, which is about as nuanced a picture of Japanese soldiers as I’ve seen in Chinese cinema. It’s a masterful film, but it’s horrific and depressing as all hell. Fitting for the subject matter, of course, but it’s hard to recommend you watch it if you already know what happened in Nanjing. It just makes you feel sick.)), of course, but the vast majority of films and television programs China produces about its own history are so black-and-white (figuratively) that its a wonder they even bother to film in color at all. Zing!
OK, that wasn’t as clever as I had been hoping it was. But any Chinese language student who has grudgingly worked their way through almost any TV series about the Sino-Japanese war (for example) would laugh out loud at the idea that China’s entertainment is any more nuanced than Hollywood’s. In this instance, the figurative pot and kettle are both jet black.
It’s also odd that the Global Times picked these three films in particular to indicate how American filmgoers apparently eat up this dumbed-down shlock. But are Americans really eating these films up? “Huge box office takings”? Red Dawn is getting absolutely shit on in the box offices, despite this past weekend being its opening weekend. It’s even losing out to a boring costume drama about Lincoln that has, like, no explosions. It’s also losing to Life of Pi, the Twilight movie, Skyfall, Wreck-it Ralph (which has been out for a month already), and some movie called Rise of the Guardians that I’ve never even heard of. So far, Red Dawn is the 2,576th best-selling movie in America. (Unless you adjust the box office numbers for inflation, in which case it’s way lower).
The Mission Impossible film, admittedly, did much better in the US, but it did nearly as well in China too, grossing more than $100 million. Not too shabby for a foreign-language film! And while Avengers is one of the top-grossing films ever, it’s a superhero film; the whole point is that they’re good vs. evil. Oh, and they made over $100 million in China on that one, too. So if Hollywood stupidity is making US audiences stupid, apparently it’s doing the same thing to China.
Actually, many of the US’s top grossing films, while still simplistic, aren’t really good vs. evil. Avatar, which holds the number one spot, certainly isn’t the kind of good vs. evil nationalism the Global Times is complaining about since the film was probably inspired by American colonists’ violent battles with Native Americans. And Titanic isn’t much of a good vs. evil story either, unless you consider the iceberg evil.
Many film critics believe that the Cold War has made a comeback to Hollywood movies in recent years. In real politics, it is not uncommon for Americans to demonstrate their tendency to see the world from a rigid ideological perspective.
When the Global Times is criticizing other people for “seeing the world from a rigid ideological perspective,” it’s difficult to keep your head from exploding with the irony. But strap your dome down with duct tape because we’re about to go deeper. Not to be outdone by some guy whose name is Chen Chenchen (they’re running out of ways to disguise the fact that the editorial staff is writing the op-eds over there too, eh?), in steps the Global Times editorial team, featuring a Hu Xijin who is fresh off his disappointing number 9 finish on the rankings of 2012’s most horrible people and looking to stake a higher spot on the list for next year. He really knocks it out of the park in “Elton John’s outburst met with indifference”, which is about the Elton John concert and is pretty damn crazy. At the end, though, for some reason the subject shifts to Red Dawn. And miraculously, just a day later, Red Dawn has now become a shining example of Sino-US friendship and indicative of a positive worldwide trend in Sino-global relations!
To please Chinese audiences, Hollywood movie Red Dawn changed some parts which could have harmed China’s image. This incident caused a sensation in the West while the news caused by Elton John was only fleeting, as the former can better represent the general trend of the relationship between China and other countries.
It’s hard to know what I should think about Red Dawn, then — come on, Global Times, is it a sickening example of American nationalism or a shining example of American willingness to cooperate when millions of box-office dollars are at stake? Also, why is the film even getting so much attention in the Chinese press at all given that it’s no longer about China and that it is, as I mentioned before, a terrible, terrible film.
But let’s stop giving the Global Times Opinion pages grief and turn our attention to the other side of the globe. By and large, Americans have been doing their country proud by going out and not seeing Red Dawn in droves. But unfortunately, some people did see Red Dawn, and some of those people are racist idiots.
It’s hard to even know what to say about the people quoted in that story. No, not because it’s a complex feeling that’s difficult to verbalize; it’s just that it’s difficult to type while smashing one’s head repeatedly and savagely against a wall. Is it un-American of me to suggest that these people ought to be loaded into a cannon and fired directly into the sun?
Probably. But if NASA were to begin work on a Sun Cannon, I certainly wouldn’t be opposed, and Twitter racists would make excellent test candidates. Perhaps we could even bounce a few off the moon first to see if a ricochet shot would be — what’s the scientific term again? — awesome. I’m no astrophysicist, but I hypothesize that it would.