Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Layers of meaning

This is just the thing to be writing about during a federal election campaign. According to numerous media sources, including the Wrap, Zhang Jieli, writing in the Chinese People's Liberation Army's newspaper PLA Daily, has slammed Guillermo del Toro's giant robots versus giant alien monster film Pacific Rim as American propaganda. He asserts it depicts Chinese people unfavourably, writing that,

"The decisive (in the final act of the film) battle against the monsters was deliberately set in South China Sea adjacent to Hong Kong ...The intention was to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to maintaining stability in the Asia-Pacific area and saving the mankind."

As well as that, while the American characters study the monsters and create machines to battle them, the Chinese are depicted as harvesting their bodies for food and trinkets. The film is so offensive that it has only managed to gross a disappointing $100 million at the Chinese box office.

Fair enough. Has someone told Mr Zhang that perhaps he might be reading a little too much into things?

It's not as though the Chinese are the only nationality hard done by in this film. You'd think that with so many Australian actors working in Hollywood these days, del Toro would be able to find a couple to play the Australian pilots of the Striker Eureka, designed to protect the Australian coastline from the giant alien monsters. Instead we have a British and American actor attempting what must be the most unconvincing Australian accents in a Hollywood film since 1991's Point Break.

A key battle takes place in Sydney Harbour. While the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge are two internationally known and instantly recognisable landmarks, other Australian cities don't get a look in. You could be forgiven for thinking that Sydney is the only big city in Australia, and the rest of it consists of sleepy country towns and desert, just like Walkabout Creek in Crocodile Dundee. That's right. You drive a few kilometres outside of Sydney's central business district and then you hit dirt roads and the outback, dodging mobs (that's the collective noun for them) of kangaroos.

I defy the American reader of this blog to give one example of an accurate and not at all cringe inducing depiction of Australia and Australians in a Hollywood movie.

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