Tag Archives: North Korean

Re: Where I Try To Explain Red Dawn

I don’t normally get that angry about things. Disappointed, sure. Upset, often enough. But really, truly angry? That emotion is normally reserved for pure, undistilled racism.

Yesterday I wrote about the production history of Red Dawn, and mostly talked about how the plot was immensely improbable and how the film industry is all about money, et cetera. What I did not at all dwell on was the potential of the film to bring out racism in people, similar [but not at all comparable] to the abuse of Middle Eastern Americans after what happened on 9/11.

On Facebook Racebending.com directed me to Tumblr user manilaryce, who compiled a number or racist tweets by people who had just watched Red Dawn. I have embedded the image below and on the right.

The following are a few of the tweets that particularly stood out to me:

Kinda wanna kill some Asians right now and defend the homeland, thank you Red Dawn for sparking some patriotism in me

The only reason Im going to see red dawn is cause there’s sexy ass guys running around with guns killing Asians my type of movie;)!

I now hate all Chinese, Japanese, Asian, Korean people. Thanks. #reddawn #amazingmoviedoe

Red dawn was sickkk..just another reason why to hate asians.

This is like when racist Hunger Games fans tweeted about how the casting of a character as Black ruined the movie for them. The difference between that situation and this one is that I feel directly targeted.

One of the tweets, by @elysse223, reads “I usually love Asians, but in Red Dawn I found them terrifying.” After reading that I almost immediately felt worse, like both me and everyone else like me had been transformed into inhuman movie monsters.

The only consolation I can take in all this is that the film is being almost universally panned. Liam Lacey, reviewing the film for The Globe and Mail, says “Red Dawn panders to the worst kind of racist and jingoist impulses, though the movie is so preposterously insincere, it feels like those adjectives should be in air quotes.” Over at Indiewire Gabe Toro describes the film as “stitched together with scotch tape and falling apart at the seams, letting casual racism and misanthropy to spill out the sides.”

I honestly don’t have a lot to say except that I’m angry, hurt, and somewhat unsurprised that this is what audience members all over America are choosing to take away from this movie. I am Asian and I am not evil. I do not want to take over America. I do not want to ever feel like this:

Where I Try to Explain Red Dawn

I’ve begun seeing trailers on TV, and apparently it hit theatres two days ago, so I figure now’s as good a time to talk about Red Dawn as any.

For those of you who don’t know, Red Dawn is a remake of the 1984 film of the same name. In the original the United States is invaded by both the Soviet Union and its Cuban allies. A group of plucky high schoolers bands together to form a guerrilla fighting force, named the Wolverines after their high school mascot.

In remaking the film the studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), realized that they needed to modernize the invaders in light of the current political climate, and chose China. Keep in mind that in the original film that country was apparently America’s only ally, with the following exchange taking place:

“…Well, who is on our side?”
“Six hundred million screaming Chinamen.”
“Last I heard, there were a billion screaming Chinamen.”
There were.”

Production was going smoothly until the summer of 2010 when the Global Times, a Chinese state-run newspaper, got a hold of leaked excerpts of the script. This prompted such headlines as “U.S. reshoots Cold War movie to demonize China” and “American movie plants hostile seeds against China.” In early 2011 the LA Times reported that the film’s villains were changed from Chinese to North Korean to “[maintain] access to the Asian superpower’s lucrative box office.Continue reading