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Red Dawn movie re-make: remaking US imperialism once again

November 21, 2012

It was nearly 30 years ago, during the first term of President Ronald Reagan’s regime of global terror, when the US was brutally assaulting civilians through proxy wars in Central America and several African nations.

The Reagan administration continued the US practice of imperialism with the US military interventions in Lebanon, Angola, Grenada and Libya. During the 1980s, the US also provided billions of dollars in military support to the Afghan Mujahedeen, who Reagan referred to as “freedom fighters.” The Mujahedeen were made up of some of the most brutal and misogynistic characters of that decade.

The US was also expanding its production of nuclear weapons and it was during the early 80s that the Reagan administration developed the Star Wars initiative. US militarism was growing, and like today, would not tolerate any threat to its global hegemony.

It is in this context that the 1984 film Red Dawn came to the big screen all across the US. I remember going to see at the old Studio 28 and was disgusted with the plot, where the US was invaded by the Soviet Union, Cuba and Nicaragua. The very notion that Cuba and Nicaragua would invade the US was and is patently absurd. The Soviet Union in theory could have, but with a large number of Soviet troops involved in the occupation of Afghanistan at the time and the US outspending the Soviets in an arms race, the possibility of a Russian invasion of the US was nearly impossible. However, this did not matter to the director of the film, who was a political conservative and avid gun collector. In fact, the text of the movie posted wonderfully summed up his political beliefs, In Our Time no foreign army has ever occupied American soil….Until now.

In the 1984 version of Red Dawn, not only do foreign armies invade the US, they take over most of the country and put US citizens in concentration camps. The film takes place in a small town in Colorado, where the heroes of the film lived. Several high school aged youth escape the initial invasion and head to the Rocky Mountains, where they begin an armed guerrilla campaign to drive out the foreign invaders. Not only are these youngsters bad asses, they are young heart throbs. Headlining the group was Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen and Jennifer Grey.

Audiences saw these young characters not only become heroes, but they saw them transform into adults. There is one scene early on where they kill a deer, gut it and eat the heart, as a right of passage that turns them into warriors. The absurdity of the plot was only outdone by the awful acting.

So, what has compelled the next generation of filmmakers to do a remake of Red Dawn? It certainly isn’t because we live in a political climate, where the US is any more vulnerable to invasion than we were in 1984. The invading army this time around is North Korea, which makes sense only in that it is near the top of the “enemy nation” list, but in practical terms the North Korean military just doesn’t have the capacity.

Maybe, it just made sense to have a new generation of heart throbs to play these roles, since youthful movie goers will not be moved by the political message, but will be star struck by the new lineup of Red Dawn, which opens in theaters today around the country.

The remake of Red Dawn stars Nickelodeon star Josh Peck, Thor’s Chris Hemsworth, and The Hunger Games’ Josh Hutcherson. However, the latter two were not big stars when they were cast in the film. Red Dawn was originally filmed in 2009, but then was shelved by the production company. By mid-2011, the cast was not even sure the film would be released at all.

Beyond the opportunity to use the current generation of eye-candy in Red Dawn, it does provide Hollywood with another opportunity to work with the US military, something that has increased since September 11. 2001. It has been reported that the US Navy Seals assisted in the training of the cast of Red Dawn and it doesn’t hurt that the film can be used in the propaganda war to convince those who will see the film, that the US is always at risk of attack from those who “hate democracy.”

More importantly, the real benefit of such a film is that it will distract us from thinking about the numerous wars and military interventions the US is currently involved in, from Afghanistan to Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iraq. The remake of Red Dawn will also not require us to think about US military spending in general or the roughly 180 US military bases around the world that are used primarily to control global resources and protect geopolitical interests abroad. All of this is of course not as interesting as Chris Mensworth’s bangin body.

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