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Keep Repeating to Yourself, It’s Only a Movie

The old chestnut of how Chinese people are represented in US blockbusters has once again risen up and the patriotic morons who populate the Chinese web forums (most whom I would warrant could benefit from six months being beaten senseless in an Internet addiction therapy centre).  This time, it’s none other than 2012 – a movie that is based on the idea that Mayans knew when the world was going to end (in 2012).  Reaction to the movie has been well, stupid, with stupid Chinese people asking “could 2012 be real?” (no, it’s a only movie) and even stupider Chinese people asking “should 2012 be banned in China” (no, it’s a only movie).  The truly moronic amongst them have even thought that writing in newspapers about it about the fact that it is too horrific for children – especially Chinese children who live in a socialist utopia, and spend their free time dancing in the sugarpulm rainbow fields skipping through the wheat with gumdrop smiles  – with one critic suggesting that even he, a fully grown man (and actor, no less) with a driving license and everything, was too terrified to sleep after watching it.  Hong Jiantao wrote:

“…ever since 9:30 last night when I finished watching the film, I haven’t been able to get to sleep. I’ll nod off for a few moments but then I’m startled awake by my dreams, which consist entirely of horrifying scenes…I could still not help being convinced that disaster was really about to strike. Really, you absolutely cannot take children with you to watch this movie. A teenage girl sitting behind me was so scared she started crying, and my own palms were slick with a cold sweat”

From what Jintao writes, 2012 is nothing more than The Exorcist for our generation.  At this point, it’s seems fair that anyone who thinks that the world is really going to end in 2012, and who thinks that Los Angeles sliding off into the ocean (something that, till now, has been nothing but an oft-prayed-for fantasy), despite reams of geological evidence, and common sense that this seems hugely unlikely, should not be let anywhere near a computer, a blog, or a cinema without first being doped up real good.  Also, in my experience it’s not that hard to find a film that a Chinese girl will cry at.

Ignoring for one moment that there mustn’t be too much in the way of mass media that Chinese people find offensive, and ignoring for yet another moment that it’s a only movie, and for a further moment still that it’s a Christmas blockbuster  and not really meant to be taken seriously.  Movies of this ilk are two minute cigarette breaks, a five second orgasm, they’re not supposed to be Zen-like mediations on the existence of God, death, life the universe and everything.   The real problem seems to be that Chinese people are mostly represented as pig-farmers with money who made it to the bright lights of the big cities, and are mostly helpless without the aid of big brother America coming to save everyone’s skins.  And since when do the Chinese want validation from the Yanks?  I didn’t leap on my word processor when all those action movies came out in the 80’s that had the bad guys spouting Shakespeare in bad English accents.

The accusation that the movie is creating a negative social effect is ridiculous because it gives the impression that the world will end in three years echoes the equally ludicrous notion that Kung Fu Panda exploits the memories of the people who died in the Sichuan Earthquake last year.  This of course is not true, because it’s a movie.  Asking Roland Emmerich to direct a movie about the end of the world is like asking Ted Bundy to do the catering at your wedding – you’ve got a pretty fair idea of what the content is going to be.  If the overly patriotic Chinese bloggers (and there are a lot of them) think that they can get a movie withdrawn because a girl cried, (and dear Lord, grown adult men have got to be pretty hard up for publicity if they readily admit that watching this bilge gave them nightmares), then they are demonstrating a naiveté not seen since Mao turned to his troops and said “don’t worry, it won’t take us long to get there.”

I mean, it’s only a movie.

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