The radical left can’t abide expressions of American patriotism, which are an affront to their sneering conviction that this country is the fount of all oppression and evil. For them, patriotism = jingoism. They find the very image of the Stars and Stripes itself jingoistic, which is one reason they’re always trying to replace it with a variation featuring Barack Obama’s face, logo or name. Hence the director of 2009’s GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra, explaining why his movie featuring a patriotic American icon was scrubbed of any patriotic American symbolism like flags, said “It’s an Obama world now.” Indeed it is, and so it’s open season for the left on any movie that might display unabashed patriotism – like Red Dawn.
If you haven’t already heard, Red Dawn –a remake of the 1984 original – features a handful of young Americans in Washington State taking on an invading force from North Korea. Yes, North Korea – not exactly a credible invasion threat, but an enemy of America to be sure. The invaders in the Cold War era of the original film were Soviet Communists, and the remake’s original script replaced Russians with the Chinese – but concerns about rubbing China the wrong way prompted the producers of the updated version to switch to North Korea (at least Hollywood went with a real-world enemy instead of the politically safer option: aliens, as in Independence Day or Battle L.A.). “No one would distribute the film if the enemy was China,” says producer Tripp Vinson. That country’s investment money, booming film industry, and surging moviegoing audience are the looming future of the entertainment biz.
I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I can’t speak to its cinematic quality. But the film’s quality is irrelevant to the issue of the hostility directed toward it, for its apparent patriotism, by the community of left-leaning movie reviewers. And no reviewer I’ve read so far takes the complaint quite so ludicrously far as the Wall Street Journal’s Jeff Yang.
Yang found it impossible to “swallow [Red Dawn’s] manipulative, horse-pill jingoism,” by which he means the depiction of Americans as the good guys, unapologetically defending American soil against invasion. This is unacceptable, so naturally Yang reaches for the left’s go-to nuclear weapon, the race card. He complains that the fact that Red Dawn makes use of any Asians as bad guys “plays readily into classical stereotypes”:
Those that depict Asia as a Mordor-like netherland where every hand wields a weapon and every weapon points at the throat of the civilized West — and those that treat Asians as an interchangeable, all-same mass. Can’t offend these Asians? Well, let’s just say they’re those Asians instead. A little cosmetic adjustment to flags and uniforms, and we’re off to the races.
Who thinks that way? Only the straw men in Yang’s race-obsessed mind. Certainly no one among the PC-straightjacketed, hand-wringing cowards in Hollywood, who would rather cut their own throats than offend anyone except Tea Partiers. Yang’s weird assertion is that, to the supposedly bigoted producers and their supposedly bigoted audience, any Asian country would suffice instead of China, because it’s all the same “Yellow Menace” to them.
But the producers didn’t pick just any Asian alternative; they didn’t make the invading force from Bhutan or Thailand or Japan. They chose North Korea, which is our enemy, however unlikely it is to actually invade us. Red Dawn producer Vinson tried to push past the controversy about North Koreans by explaining that the film is “not about who the enemy is. The enemy could be anybody.” No, it couldn’t. It couldn’t be Bhutan or Thailand or Japan, because audiences know that these countries are not our enemies, and would therefore find it even more unbelievable than North Koreans parachuting into the U.S.
In any case, Yang poses the question, “But if… the enemy could be anybody — and given that the film’s appeal is inextricably rooted in us-versus-them jingoism — why bow to the darkest fringe-element xenophobes and conspiracists by making them Asian? Why even make them human?” Why not make the enemy “the undead” or “an invasion of vampires,” Yang wonders, exposing his own xenophobia against the much-maligned undead and vampires. “Every underdog trope, every patriotic theme, every soul-stirring rally-to-the-flag moment could remain intact, without the potential to inflame hate.”
“Us-versus-them jingoism”? I’m sorry, Mr. Yang, but wartime is by definition us-versus-them, and deluding yourself otherwise is how you lose wars, including culture wars. How is it jingoistic to unite against those trying to kill you and conquer your homeland? Funny how the left never labels our enemies as jingoistic. Why don’t they call the North Korean or Iranian regime jingoistic and racist? Why don’t they call openly supremacist Arab terrorists jingoistic and racist? Why only Americans?
To Yang and his ilk, if a cinematic enemy is Asian or Muslim or anything other than a white businessman or Aryan Europeans like the GQ-styled terrorists of Die Hard, then we’re racist for fighting back. That is one big reason that Nazis are the only foreign enemies Hollywood is comfortable depicting as unequivocal bad guys. 2002’s The Sum of All Fears, for example, is a famous example in which political correctness forced the bad guys of Tom Clancy’s original novel to be changed from Muslim terrorists to neo-Nazis.
The Castro/Chavez/Ahmadinejad-embracing left never acknowledges that America has external enemies (or internal ones, for that matter, but let’s stay on topic). They consider rational wariness about actual enemies to be “paranoia”; if that enemy is non-white, they dismiss it as “xenophobic” (Yang used both insulting labels in a different article about Red Dawn). Apart from the fact that North Korea is not going to invade us, they are an enemy, so it’s neither paranoid nor xenophobic to cast them as the bad guys.
But the only movie enemy that Americans are allowed to engage without incurring hateful labels from PC policemen like Yang are nonexistent ones like vampires. Real-world enemies are off limits, because in the left’s warped mind, America itself is the real enemy.
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