The reviews of the “Red Dawn” remake are in–and like many young ‘uns who came of age in the 1980s when the original “Red Dawn” was released, I’ve been awfully curious about how contemporary political realities might effect the reboot of the rightwing Reagan-era classic. Would supposed “Liberal” Hollywood defang its propagandastic anti-Communist ways? Or would extreme conservatives, constantly lamenting the lack of movies that share their point of view, have another film to champion in the wake of “2016: Obama’s America.” Turns out, it’s the latter. And just as with so many rightwing movies, it’s also poorly conceived and poorly made, which doesn’t seem to make a difference to its target demographic.
Like the original film, the new “Red Dawn” follows a group of all-American teen resistance fighters whose community is invaded by a Communist enemy (updated from the first film’s Soviet Army inexplicably to North Korean troops). As Variety’s Joe Leydon writes, “Despite the change — or to be more precise, changes — to the nationality of the occupying army, it’s still the same old story, a fight for love and glory, a case of do-or-die as outgunned and outnumbered partisans take their best shots during an urban guerrilla campaign against the enemy.”
Fine. Red meat politics, here you go: another tale of American heroism, guns and masculine bravado.
But then again, I have to wonder if tales of military occupation and the freedom fighters who wage a war against them might be read differently in today’s political context? Know any military occupations that the U.S. has experienced recently?
Indeed, with the U.S.’s occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the constant equating of resistance fighers with terrorists, how are we to take this story of armed teen rebellion? Will American audiences hail guerilla fighters in this cinematic context? Of course they will to some extent, given the way the movie is structured. But a vision of World War III that pits foreign occupying troops against American militias is not only outdated and inaccurate, but flips our current political realities.