Robert Farley is totally right about how our ambivalence about China plays out in our movies:
Later this year, a remake of Red Dawn will hit the screens in the United States. Initially, the producers had planned to replace the original version’s coalition of Russian, Nicaraguan and Cuban soldiers with Chinese invaders. Unfortunately, a sense of commercial viability prevailed over the studio: Reports now indicate that the remake’s invaders will be the even less realistic North Koreans, a change designed to preserve the film’s marketability to the ever-growing Chinese movie-going audience.
In 1984, no one needed to worry about the preferences of Russian movie viewers. The Kremlin hated Red Dawn — as well as Rocky IV, in which an American boxer defeats a steroid-laden Soviet stereotype to the cheers of a Russian crowd — but no one in Hollywood cared. The Russian market was irrelevant to the United States, both in terms of film specifically, and in terms of trade more generally. Such is not the case with the United States and China, however. On virtually every conceivable set of economic metrics, the United States and the People’s Republic of China are tightly integrated. For the international system, this is probably a good thing, as hopefully the potential costs of conflict to both sides render war unimaginable.
It’s better for world peace to have a great power rivalry defined by economic competition and interdependence, but it’s not so great for pop culture, generally. The (unusually timely) solution is, of course, to have American and Chinese forces team up to stop the external forces, among them comically media moguls, who want to bait them into World War III:
That, or have Christian Bale stop the Nanjing massacre.