By Jeff Girod
Grab a rifle, son. We’re being invaded! That’s the premise of MGM’s remake of the 1984 cult classic Red Dawn, a Cold War drama—starring Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Lea Thompson, C. Thomas Howell and Charlie Sheen—about a bunch of high school kids in Calumet, Colorado, who repel a Soviet invasion. (Because if you’re going to topple the United States, you start by seizing Calumet.)
Yes, Red Dawn is a timeless classic. To this day I can’t turn over a dying teenager in the snow without fear she might be concealing a live hand grenade. And who hasn’t avoided having a car overheat by peeing into the radiator?
But since the Soviet Union is now as toothless and irrelevant as ’80s Russian comedian Yakov Smirnoff, MGM needed a new villain for its 2011 Red Dawn redo. Enter the Chinese.
What could be scarier than China? A country of 1.3 billion people, spanning 3.7 million miles with everyone dressed in olive khaki. China also has the world’s second largest economy and recently announced plans to spend $91.5 billion on the People’s Liberation Army, navy and air forces. And if that doesn’t cry out for a Hollywood blockbuster with John Cena kicking serious ass in a jetfighter, frankly, people, I don’t know what will.
But not so fast, my politically correct friends. Turns out, MGM has bigger concerns than protecting America’s fictional freedom. Apparently depicting China as a super villain in Red Dawn will make it super hard to market the movie in Asia, you know, because Asia is where all the Chinese are.
As a result, MGM has now digitally erased all of the Chinese flags and military symbols from Red Dawn, substituting dialogue and altering the film to depict much of the invading force as being from North Korea. (Because talking color movies won’t be invented in North Korea until 2016. Electricity: three years after that.)
Of course! North Korea! Everyone hates North Korea. Those Stone Age backward isolationist hillbillies! Ha ha ha! One problem: North Korea is tiny. Like seriously teeny. It’s not even all of Korea, just the northern part.
That would be like the Red Dawn high school kids being attacked by South Dakota. No, wait, my mistake. I just checked and South Dakota is actually twice the square area of North Korea. So, it would be like the Red Dawn high school kids being attacked by western South Dakota—all nine residents (including mules and tractors).
Talk about a lack of dramatic tension. Talk about unbelievable. I’m not even sure North Korea is physically capable of transporting an army to the United States. Do you have any idea what airplane fuel costs? And forget baggage fees, what does Delta charge to ship a tank?
Look, I get that the business of moviemaking is to earn a buck. And it’s more practical to offend a few hundred thousand North Koreans than a billion Chinese. But c’mon! Red Dawn is supposed to be an action movie. China is the one country that could realistically invade the United States. North Korea couldn’t defeat the Calumet High School ladies wrestling team.
You don’t want to piss off the Chinese? Fine. Don’t remake Red Dawn. It’s not like anyone was clamoring for it: “Ooh, I wonder who they’ll get to play brooding leader of the Wolverines, Jed Eckert.” Anyway, isn’t it about time for another crappy sequel to Transformers or Sex in the City?
You don’t think Americans get portrayed as bad guys in movies all over the world? Of course we do! The only reason you never hear about it is because those movies suck (because we didn’t film them). Also, when you live in a country that’s better than everybody else’s, you’re too busy enjoying things such as purified water and DirecTV to care what dirty foreigners think.
So ultimately, maybe that would be the most believable Red Dawn villain of all: A United States invaded by the United States. Sure! We would never see it coming . . . or would we? (See, it’s a thriller and an action movie.)
Those Calumet High School kids better start rounding up grenades and filling their bladders . . . Wolverines!
Contact Jeff Girod at email@example.com.