Tag Archives: Russia

How Marvel Ruined The Movies

Over the past decade, we’ve been witness to something unprecedented in the history of film: the rise of the cinematic universe.

Pioneered by Marvel with their ever-expanding Avengers universe, this innovative and impressive model has been swiftly copied by others, and we’re already seeing attempts at DC’s Justice League universe, an expanded Star Wars, and even Harry Potter. While the success has certainly been varied, it would seem the standard is here to stay.

And here’re the reasons why that sucks.

Bigger Audiences Don’t Mean Better Movies

And while that goes without saying, the issue becomes especially apparent when movies become global phenomena in the way the MCU has become.

In his posts about the whitewashing of Doctor Strange, Evan brought up the case of film-critic-turned-writer C. Robert Cargill. In a podcast, Cargill discussed the whitewashing of “The Ancient One” and how the character of an old man from the Himalayas got turned into middle-aged woman from Scotland.

“The Ancient One… comes from a region of the world that is in a very weird political place. He originates from Tibet. So if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion [Chinese] people who think that that’s bullshit…”

-C. Robert Cargill, Double Toasted Podcast

While my co-author pointed out that the character of The Ancient One was set in Nepal, not Tibet, and while Cargill swiftly clarified that these were his thoughts, not Marvel’s, I do think he’s got a point. China has become a major consumer of western films, and the effects of that are already apparent.

2014’s Transformers 4: Age of Extinction surpassed Jame’s Cameron’s Avatar in Chinese theaters, and presently stands as the 4th highest-grossing film in the nation.

“The long and the short of it: Bay made a movie set and filmed in China, starring Chinese actors, using Chinese resources and pushing Chinese products, and in exchange, the movie gets a timely premiere across the country’s 18,000-plus movie screens.”

Nash Jenkins, TIME Magazine, 2014

The remake of Red Dawn, originally based on the idea of a Chinese invasion of the US, was hastily changed to cast North Korea as the principal villain for fear of offending Chinese viewers. Because the US getting conquered by a country smaller than the state of Louisiana is somehow believable.

tewaame

Now that’s not to say that Red Dawn would’ve been a good movie otherwise (it wouldn’t have)- just that it was made even more stupid in a greedy effort to rake in more cash. While we certainly didn’t lose a cinema classic in catering to political correctness, it does set a disturbing precedent for the future. Will films purposefully cut reference to Tibet, Taiwan, or the Uighurs? Will China’s despicable record on human rights and the environment be glossed over for box office sales?

And they’re not the only problem. Continue reading

The Cultural Revolution

Gangs of schoolchildren sporting red scarves chant slogans as they march through the streets. A shop owner tears down an old sign for containing counter-revolutionary terminology. A man is publicly shamed for wearing pants too tight for manual labor- a young woman with scissors cut from the hem to above the knee. The son of a landlord is dragged through the streets as insults are hurled at him.

These are scenes from the so-called “Cultural Revolution”. Begun by Mao and his followers in 1966, these rallies and mass actions were meant to purge China of the last vestiges of antiquated, foreign, and Capitalist thought, replacing it with a proletarian culture that would forever cement the victory of the Maoists in 1950.

The Cultural Revolution quickly degenerated into something that could only be likened to the Reign of Terror following the French Revolution, with anyone accused of counter-revolutionary sentiment facing political and physical attacks. The “revolution” became a hotbed for corruption and suppression of dissent of any kind, and one might even argue that this major attempt to push socialism upon its inhabitants is actually what eventually led to the unraveling of Chinese Communism and its replacement with the sweatshops and slave-labor we more commonly associate with that nation today.

Mao, you see, had it backwards- trying to seize power and then change the hearts and minds of the public. That’s not a revolution, comrades, that’s just a coup. Rosa Luxemburg, an early but seminal Marxist thinker, once asserted that even if each and every civil servant and elected official were to suddenly become Communists, the world would not be one iota closer to being a Socialist one. Luxemburg understood the true nature of revolution- not some bleak military conquest but a fundamental change in the thinking and values of the majority of society. My ability to make you memorize Lenin, work on communal farms, and wave red-and-black flags will not make you Communists, no matter how long you do it (and even if it did, you’d be some pretty lousy Communists at that). The entire disastrous venture of the cultural revolution may have been avoided had Mao heeded the words of American Socialist and presidential candidate Eugene Debs when he proclaimed:

In the simplest possible terms, leaders come and go, the great will of the masses does not. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. The fight to change the basic values and principals of the people must come first– but how is this done? Continue reading

Culture War Correspondence: Russia and the Ukraine

GORDON: The Culture “War” has more often than not been used as a metaphor, but every once in a while (and with increasing occurrence) battles of the heart and mind start to include blood and iron as well.

Today we’re going to be discussing the ongoing Crisis in the Ukraine, both in regards to its roots and its implications in our society as a whole.

EVAN: I’m going to be one hundred percent honest with you, Gordon, and with all of our readers, I’m primarily going to be viewing a lot of Russia’s actions, and the responses of the other world powers, almost purely as if this were all a game of Sid Meier’s Civilization V.

putinthegreat

Consequently, I can only imagine Putin like this.

Continue reading

Shame Day: The Sochi Olympics

I have this weird thing where I actually really love crowds, so if I was in Sochi right now I would be all up in the Olympic excitement. And of course as a Canadian I’m particularly excited to be a winner in something sporty, even if my association with winning is only via my citizenship.

That being said, I’m going to have to pull a Debbie Downer here and remind everyone of all the crap that has happened in Russia as a direct result of the Olympics.

Continue reading

Duck Dynasty vs. Real Persecution

For those of you who don’t already know, I grew up in a very Christian community. And I had an amazing experience. For any of those people who may be reading this, thank you for helping create such a safe and loving environment for me to grow up it. I still look up to so many people in that community because they are kind and loving people who live their lives striving to serve God and love others.

That being said, it’s really frustrating to see a lot of really amazing people re-posting memes like this.

Because I’m pretty sure when any homosexual person reads this meme, what they are going to immediately understand is that you care more about the reality show of a multimillionaire than you care about actual abuse happening to members of the LGBT community around the world. Continue reading

Fame Day: Unsung Hero Compilation

Readers, I’m not going to lie. It’s been a long day for me, and every time I sit in front of my keyboard and ask myself “what’s really awesome?” I keep answering “sleep.” But fear not, readers, though the flesh is weak the spirit is stubborn as a mule and we will have Fame Day today, though in lieu of our standard MO of showcasing on particular group or individual, we’re going to be covering a host of different subjects who don’t get the attention they deserve.

Let’s get things started. Continue reading

Boycott Russia

2014 will see the XXII Winter Olympics held in Sochi, Russia. Or at least, such is the current proposal of the Russian state and the Olympic committee. Personally, I’d like to keep that from happening.

Here’s why:

Russia isn’t exactly a beacon of freedom and human rights today (or since 1929, for that matter). In spite of having the basic decency to offer former-NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden something of a safe haven, the modern Russian Federation has more than a few dents in its reputation.

And its cars…

While massive corruption has been an issue for a long time, and while Russia is no more free from the ugly face of white supremacism than any of its fellow European nations, a few recent events stand out as especially damning. Continue reading