The New Production Code: MGM Scrubs China From 'Red Dawn' Remake

Keep in mind that this is MGM’s decision. The filmmakers have already made their film and went with the Chinese. I’m sure their frustration is off the charts and that it was rather scary when the MGM Suits took them into Room 101 to explain the situation. As Mark Krikorian at The Corner asks: “Haven’t we always been at war with Eastasia?”

So much for artistic freedom. And this is likely the wrong kind of artistic freedom to receive any kind of defense in the usual-usual entertainment press.

The L.A. Times:

China has become such an important market for U.S. entertainment companies that one studio has taken the extraordinary step of digitally altering a film to excise bad guys from the Communist nation lest the leadership in Beijing be offended. …

[P]otential distributors are nervous about becoming associated with the finished film, concerned that doing so would harm their ability to do business with the rising Asian superpower, one of the fastest-growing and potentially most lucrative markets for American movies, not to mention other U.S. products.

As a result, the filmmakers now are digitally erasing 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, an isolated country where American media companies have no dollars at stake.

Wait. I’m confused. Hollywood bashes America constantly. Aren’t we “an important market for U.S. entertainment companies”? I guess some markets are more equal than others. (You’ll be glad to know that I’m now out of Orwell references.)

Back to the Corner, this time Daniel Foster, who points out the utter absurdity of portraying North Korea as any kind of threat to any country other than their own:


[T]he long-stalled remake has become a sick joke. To wit: MGM has taken the extraordinary step of digitally scrubbing the film of all references to Red China as the invading villains — substituting dialogue, removing images of Chinese flags and insignia etc. — because “potential distributors are nervous about becoming associated with the finished film, concerned that doing so would harm their ability to do business with the rising Asian superpower.” All without the PRC even uttering a single word of protest.

And who are the new invaders? North Korea. That’s right, the starving-to-death, massively brainwashed “Hermit Kingdom.” I imagine at this very moment, Hollywood script doctors are working on a revised first act in which Kim Jong Il decides it’s a good idea to let hundreds of thousands of his captive countrymen travel to America.

So much for realism. Read the whole thing.

Whenever you watch contemporary documentaries about the Golden Age of Hollywood, the Production Code is almost always portrayed as the Great Big Right-Wing Boogie Man. The infamous code was a set of self-imposed guidelines the industry lived under that regulated language, sex, and how much cleavage Jane Russell could show. Of course, these same documentaries inevitably portray the lifting of this censorship in the ’60s as something akin to the falling of the Berlin Wall. Hallelujah! Free at last! Blah, blah, blah…

Well, to anyone paying attention nothing’s changed except the hypocrisy. We’ve gone from the PC of the Production Code to the PC of Political Correctness. Filmmakers can offend America all day long, but not the Communist Chinese. Storytellers can savage Christians till the cows come home, but Muslims get PSAs, and in-between all those redneck jokes let’s not riff about electric cars being gay.

The old self-imposed Production Code was designed to keep the film industry out of trouble with the U.S. Government and citizen groups concerned with morality. The new self-imposed Production Code is concerned only with offending oppressive governments and the left-wing, PC Sensitivity Police.

In other words, the only real difference between then and now is that today movies suck a whole lot more.

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