Remember Red Dawn? It was one of the seminal movies of the 80s, throwing the hot young actors of the day into a deliriously paranoid, and gloriously patriotic, fable about Russia and Cuba invading the heartland of the United States. Let’s all pause to shout the heroes’ battle cry. I know you want to.
Red Dawn is one of those loved-or-hated Rorschach inkblot movies. Like the best science fiction stories, the point is not the plausibility of the plot, but rather the emotional resonance of the young patriots and their defiance against invading forces. You can most easily appreciate this if you remember the movie’s legendary trailer, which depicted a drowsy high-school class interrupted by the surreal spectacle of Russian paratroopers floating down from the sky, and shooting the teacher. You don’t have to understand how warp drive works to enjoy Star Trek, and you don’t have to figure out how the Russian military of 1984 got across the borders of America to appreciate the drama of Patrick Swayze and Lea Thompson banding together with their friends to defend their town, and country.
Hollywood is completely out of fresh ideas, so several years ago, MGM decided to remake Red Dawn. Americans don’t worry about Russia very much these days – they arguably don’t worry about it enough – so the villains had to be changed. Who could MGM choose to launch the new invasion of Colorado? (Well, actually, they moved the location to Spokane, Washington for the remake.)
Obviously they weren’t going to roll with the foreign powers that most trouble Americans in the post-9/11 era, because depicting them as global villains is strictly forbidden. Hollywood wouldn’t want to fuel the xenophobia of the heartland rubes who line its pockets with their ticket money. The temperature of America’s racist reactor core still hasn’t settled down to acceptable levels since Iron Man flew into Afghanistan to kick ass. Try to imagine what the scenes of brutal occupation would be like if the invaders were enforcing strict shari’a law. Yeah, Hollywood wasn’t going to film that.
What we ended up with as a new villain for Red Dawn 2.0 was China… until somebody at MGM remembered that China is Hollywood’s #5 market after the United States, and the Chinese government has a very thin skin for cinematic insults. The film was already in the can, and a bankrupt MGM was auctioning it off to other distributors. It was too late to do anything about this dreadful predicament…
No! Wait! It’s not too late! We’ve got CGI now! We can film a crowd of giant blue aliens and digitally insert an almost realistic-looking Sam Worthington! Hollywood could fix this… and it did. As reported by the New York Times, the invaders in the new Red Dawn have been altered with CGI to become North Koreans.
They couldn’t completely get rid of the Chinese, but they were able to manage enough changes to make it look like they’re mostly along for the ride, and the NoKos are the real heavies. It will be like the way that one Cuban guy was sort of sympathetic in the original Red Dawn, while the beefy Russian commander with the moustache handled the atrocities.
Nobody cares about insulting North Koreans. They don’t spend money in Hollywood. Oddly, nobody in Hollywood cares about insulting Americans, and they remain the domestic film industry’s #1 market. Film studios crank out an endless stream of vile slander against Middle America and our brave military, with barely a pause to digest their horrendous losses at the box office… but make one film the Chinese government doesn’t like, and it’s time to bust out the supercomputers and dust off the Kim Jong-Il puppet from Team America.
Apparently no one in Hollywood cares about insulting the people of Colorado, either. Sorry, guys. You’re not even good enough to get invaded any more. The front lines have moved to Spokane. If you pack your guns and leave now, you might just make it there in time to enlist before the Chin… er, North Korean paratroopers descend upon the high schools of Washington State.