NEWSFLASH: China is America’s enemy.
Okay, so this is not news exactly. But it’s a meme that’s getting some pop cultural attention this year with the release of two 80′s movie remakes that promote the idea–two of my favorite movies growing up, as it so happens–The Karate Kid, which opens in a week, and Red Dawn, which will debut in November.
The new Karate Kid is set in Beijing, where those oversized, sandy-haired thugs, aka Cobra Kai, have been updated into a gang of oversized, slanty-eyed thugs.
There are good Chinese people to balance out this “I am extremely terrified of Chinese people” paranoia, in the form of Jackie Chan, the remake’s Mr. Miyagi–redubbed Mr. Han, to be culturally appropriate, despite the now-culturally inappropriate title (karate is Japanese)–and Jaden Pinkett-Smith’s character’s love interest, Meiying. Which makes the idea that China’s the new bully on the block and America’s the new underdog somehow more palatable, right?
The Red Dawn remake does The Karate Kid one better in the Fear of a Yellow Planet department, and by better, I mean, of course, much much worse. Last week, The Awl leaked parts of the movie’s script, which appears to be even more of a xenophobic hot mess than expected.
It didn’t take long for the Chinese media to pick up on this and add the Red Dawn remake to the already long list of things “hurting the feelings of the Chinese people.” [An aside: Dibs on this as the name for my future emo band.] The New Yorker‘s Evan Osnos, who lives in Beijing, then responded to the Chinese reaction to the leaked script with “Red Dawn Again,” where he wrote:
Before we begin hearing about the “hurtfeelingsoftheChinesepeople,” I would point out that this film also hurts the feelings of some American people who know we can do better than this.
O-kay, but before we begin hearing about that, I would point out that this film also and ESPECIALLY hurts the feelings of Chinese American people (like me). And it confuses us.
Because how do we get behind the American hero when, for 120 minutes, people like us are cast, yet again, in the role of the foreign villains?
How are we supposed to feel about a movie in which we look like the bully, but feel like the underdog?
And who do we root for when we have the face of the enemy, but the heart of a Wolverine?
[Red Dawn Chinese enemy photo via Red Dawn 2010]
Filed under: 80's Movie Remakes, 80's Movies, Bullies, China, China the New Superpower, Chinysteria, Cobra Kai, I Am Extremely Terrified of Chinese People, Jackie Chan, Karate Kid Remake, Red Dawn, Red Dawn Remake, Remakes Always Suck, The Chinese Are Coming The Chinese Are Coming, The Karate Kid, Underdogs, Wolverines, Xenophobia, Yellow Peril
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