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US vision of villains vs. heroes not just on screen
Global Times | March 17, 2011 08:37
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Depicting Soviets or Russians as scary invaders or thieves is not rare in Hollywood films, as in the 1984 film "Red Dawn" or in Indiana Jones' latest romp.

US film makers continued with this Cold War cliché when they remade "Red Dawn," but changed the villains to Chinese soldiers.

Before its official release this year, the film underwent a dramatic twist in the nationality of the characters - signs and symbols referring to China were digitally erased, with North Korean baddies being substituted in.

The logic behind the move is simple. The Chinese film market, which was worth $1.5 billion and ranked the fifth highest of America's overseas markets last year, is too lucrative to lose, the Los Angeles Times quoted the US producer as saying. However, US filmmakers have nothing to lose in North Korea.

Without a single word from Chinese authorities, the US studio spent another $1 million to re-edit its film. One cannot help but marvel about the rising power of China, even though it is sheer market power this time.

But no matter what villains the US film producers choose, "Red Dawn" and many more films, involving conflicts with foreign countries, often reflect Americans' stubborn Cold War mindset.

In their imagination, there is always an aggressive and ideologically different state that is trying to spy on or wage war with the US. The heroic American people always fight back and wipe out the villains.

They do not really care about which country the "villains" are from. The existence of these villains is simply there to counterpoint the mighty Americans and their fight to protect their values and serve the justice.

This mindset of heroes vs. villains is not rooted to the entertainment world. The creation of the "axis of evil" by former US president George W. Bush was not for fun.

A significant number of politicians still believe Iran, North Korea and a couple of defiant countries are villains to be overcome, and people are expecting the US heroes to save the world.

The sad fact is that, the US politicians do not always hold up to their ideology. As in the entertainment world, the villains are interchangeable, and their holy values can be compromised, as long as the new move meets their interests.


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