They call it the “dream factory”. Hollywood, they say, is where any dream can be made to appear to come true. Apparently that is still the case: The Los Angeles Times just reported that MGM has magically transformed the villains in the soon-to-be-released remake of the legendary John Milius film Red Dawn from Chinese to North Korean. The change in bad guys was accomplished by creating a new opening sequence summarizing the back story, by re-editing two scenes and by using digital technology to transform many Chinese symbols to Korean. All this cost only about $1 million in additional post-production costs. The LA Times reports that these post-facto changes will not completely eliminate references to China, but it puts North Korea in the lead role in the coalition that invades CONUS. The movie had been “in the can” for more than a year, but the release was stalled, because of MGM’s bankruptcy. But as MGM Corporation crawled up out of the dustbin with new financing (partly from overseas) and a new foreign distribution arrangement, it had a very inconvenient problem: Red Dawn was still waiting for release. Rather than facing another fiasco of Heaven’s Gate proportions, MGM’s management decided to finagle their way out, digitally.
Producer Tripp Vinson was quoted as saying: “We were initially very reluctant to make any changes, but after careful consideration we constructed a way to make a scarier, smarter and more dangerous ‘Red Dawn’ that we believe improves the movie”. I have nothing but contempt for this sycophantic political back-pedaling. So did also going to digitally change the Chinese soldiers’ facial features to look Korean? Did MGM’s “careful consideration” include the management reminding them that Sony now has a stake in the newly-reorganized MGM? And is it it just a coincidence that the Chinese government is now “co-investing” with Sony? I think not.
Are we supposed to blithely accept the digital legerdemain of removing the familiar “Eight One” chop mark of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and substituting some hangul squiggles? The whole concept is absurd. North Korea has an army that numbers just over one million men and women with a largely fictitious 7.7 million member “reserve” force. (The latter is a paper tiger, armed mostly with T-54 and T-55 tanks that won’t start, SKS and Mosin Nagant rifles, and even some ersatz solid wood “rifles” for parade drills.) The North Koreans also have virtually NO blue water transport fleet. They would have trouble successfully invading the 38,600 square miles of South Korea, much less the 3.79 million square miles of the United States. Contrast that with China’s three million PLA troops and at least some naval transport, and a huge fleet of container ships. Even portraying the PLA would be stretch for an invasion force, but putting Uncle Kim’s Army in the lead role is absolutely laughable.
I find this whole charade reminiscent of the novel 1984, where military alliances were changed at a whim. But for MGM to change a completed film in post production is a new twist. If they can make changes this dramatic via digital manipulation, then I wonder what other changes we could see made to existing movies. This makes Ted Turner’s “colorizing” black and white films seem tame, by comparison. I predict that there will be a huge interest in the obsessive Bit Torrent geek world in comparing the pre-Korean and post-Korean versions of the movie. (Sort of like the folks that enjoy comparing doctored Soviet photographs.) MGM’s digital wizards are giving new meaning to both the terms “political correctness” and “historical revisionism.”
I wonder how Chris Hemsworth and Josh Peck (cast as Jed and Matt Eckert in the new movie) will feel about all this, when they attend the premiere showing. “Dang, I thought we were fightin’ the Chinese!”
A closing thought: May God have mercy on any nation that ever attempts to invade the United States. To quote the lead character in my novel “Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse”: “Come back if you dare. And when you do, you’d better bring a lot of ammo, plenty of extra grub, and a good supply of body bags, because you’re going to be in for a deuce of a gun fight.”