Heroes, Commies and the American Face: A Commentary on “Red Dawn 2010″
Way back in 1984, amidst the triple threat of Cold War “Commies,” nuclear weapons and lingering unemployment, Hollywood alchemized national fears with the propagandistic blockbuster film, “Red Dawn.” Part action thriller, part coming-of-age story, Red Dawn depicts a surprise Russian-Cuban invasion that would drown the American midwest in its own children’s blood if it were not for a few teenagers-turned-guerrilla fighters (Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen) who eventually save the day. If you have never seen this movie, I can assure you that it is probably not worth sacrificing 114 minutes of your life for. That stated, “Red Dawn” has found its place in cinematic history as the “most violent film” by the Guinness Book of World Records at the time of its release and #15 on a list of “Best Conservative Movies” by National Review. And, its panic-drenched appeal has not been lost on the screenwriters and producers of today- a revamped version is slated to arrive at a theater near you in November, 2010. But, we’re not scared of the Cold War-era “Commies” anymore. So Hollywood has recast a new villain to better reflect the times- “the Chinese.”
Yes, that’s right. The Chinese will be playing a starring role as enemy of Anytown, USA with their buddies the Russians and once again, the heroes are teen heartthrobs (Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck and Josh Hutcherson). In a recent MTV interview, Hutcherson explains that:
“we’ve changed quite a bit of the story, but the heart of the story is there. The American, patriotic feel of the original, rising up against the invaders, is still definitely there. The Chinese are invading now, so we’re switching that up just to stay with the times a little bit. It was really exciting; just blowing up things and shooting guns all day was quite an amazing experience.”
Source: MTV Movies Blog
As described on the internet movie database IMDB:
A group of teenagers look to save their town from an invasion of Chinese and Russian soldiers…
With the town completely overrun by the enemy, Matt and Jed watch helplessly as their father gives up his life to protect his family, allowing his sons to escape into the Cascade mountains. Determined to fight for their community and rescue what’s left of their hometown, the brothers assemble a ragtag group of high school students and begin to fight back. Being a war hero, Jed is able to train this unlikely group of heroes the same way that he was trained. Soon they are transformed into sharp shooting, camouflaged, freedom fighters. Known as the “Wolverines” (after Matt’s football team), the group soon becomes a national symbol for the resistance and the hope of Americans everywhere. What this enemy didn’t realize is that what makes the U.S. great is not the size of its military, but rather the men and women who wear the uniform and the communities they come from.
As you might imagine, I was a bit upset after learning about China’s leading role in “Red Dawn 2010.” But it’s just a movie, right? Not really. With our economy in the tank, our jobs being shipped overseas, and a barrage of news reports on Chinese tainted drywall, starving tigers and cyber-spies, you can bet that a significant number of Americans are not keen on China these days. However, America’s ties to China bear no resemblance to the Russian-US relationship during the Cold War era. China is creditor to American debt and Walmart’s biggest trading partner. China holds both US treasury securities and American dreams (because if you can’t get a job in America, why not try China?) And, in an age of globalization and unparalleled interdependency, can we even afford to use the word “enemy” when referring to nations? According to the writers and producers of “Red Dawn 2010,” we can.
(This short video shot during filming in Pontiac, Michigan is set to the tune, “Know Your Enemy” and was originally posted on the “unofficial website,” www.reddawn2010.com.)
In my opinion, “Red Dawn 2010” is not just a movie. It is reckless propaganda, outdated and uninformed, which serves to undermine the already fragile US-China relationship and positive diplomatic efforts made over the past few years. It shouts, “to heck with moving forward. Screw the future. Let’s resurrect the past instead.” It’s not art, it’s xenophobia. Most of all, it is one more piece in an assemblage of the modern American “face,”- the face we show to the rest of the world. It’s shameful.
But, what does China have to say about Red Dawn’s (赤色黎明) upcoming release? Here’s a translation of one take:
The remake of Red Dawn indicates that China has caused anxiety. Because of the strong yuan, China is becoming a larger part of American awareness. It shall strengthen this viewpoint of the people: for the United States, China is not merely a future opponent, but also China’s economic and military strength is now quickly catching up with the United States.
There is an English expression: “be careful what you ask for” and in Chinese the same applies.
I, for one, will skip this film. I do wonder, however, how many US dollars were spent on Chinese products for the set.
What do you think about the re-release of “Red Dawn?” What effect will it have on US-China relations? On American sentiment about the Chinese? Have your say in the comments section.