We’re buzzing this morning about the Red Dawn remake in which many of the references to invading Chinese forces are being changed in post-production to North Korea, according to the L.A. Times. Producers with cash-strapped MGM, while seeking a distributor, caved to fears the film would alienate the highly lucrative Chinese market.
According to the article, China’s government allows only about 20 non-Chinese films into theaters each year. In 2010, China was the fifth-biggest box office market outside of the United States, with $1.5 billion in revenue.
The 1984 ‘Red Dawn’ was about a group of Midwestern teens who repel Soviet and Cuban invaders. It was an artifact of the pre-Glasnost Reagan-era jingoism and paranoia, where I — even as a fourth grader — was taught to hate and fear our enemies, the Ruskies. And by the way, the Chinese in that movie were cast as our allies.
More than 25 years later, the original Red Dawn is a view of the current war, turned on its head. Now it inadvertently makes a statement about our current enemies, or at least how they might see themselves, a rag-tag insurgency over-matched by a godless foreign power, fighting for their homes.
The remake speaks to America’s new fears, of an economically weakened America, stretched too thin, and vulnerable to an attack by a foreign power. Apparently, the pre-edit version has the Chinese show up on America’s doorstep to collect on America’s massive debt. (Ironically, a real-life American studio is reliant on the Chinese as looks to re-emerge from bankruptcy.)
If this movie premise wasn’t a fantasy before, it’s certainly made so by the heightened role of the North Koreans, who probably couldn’t fly a battalion to Hawaii, much less launch a full-scale invasion.
The Democratic Republic of North Korea lacks access to fuel, spare parts and, well, food. The country has been accepting donations from the United Nations World Food Program off and on over the last two decades amid floods and famine.
Then again, it’s not like the 1984 original didn’t take some major liberties. Who would have believed that World War III would have been fought without nuclear weapons?