“Little Obama”: what winning the propaganda war looks like

As a relatively early supporter of President Obama in the Democratic primaries, one of my arguments for him over Hillary Clinton had to do with our perception abroad. On the one hand, I thought Obama had much better ideas on international relations. On the other hand, as a side benefit, I was sure that the act of electing a man with this ethnicity, international background, and named “Barack Hussein Obama” would send a message around the world that American was a far more open, diverse, and tolerant socially than either our enemies abroad, or our GOP jingoists at home, would ever believe. That would severely undercut the message of Al Queada and other extremist groups.

It goes further than I even I imagined. Here, in one apparently completely awesome and mostly pretty absurd looking Indonesian film, we get the whole freaking propaganda package made, I suspect, entirely without the cooperation of the CIA, U.S. Army Psyops, or the State Department. This comes via HuffPo and Film Drunk, and any similarities to either version of “The Karate Kid” are purely coincidental, I’m sure.

I love that last shot. Do real kids ever lay in a perfect circle to daydream about their futures?

By the way, South African anti-apartheid hero Archbishop Desmond Tutu didn’t really become an internationally known figure until the 1980s, by which time Obama was a college student in Los Angeles and New York City, but who said propaganda had to make any sense? Of course, electoral victory has a thousand father figures, and they are not always zany flamboyantly gay-acting bicyclists or taciturn martial arts instructors. Here’s another alternate history.

  

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It’s tougher, it’s darker — of course, it’s better!

Once upon a time, the movies used to take properties from other fields, plays and novels mainly, and clean them for the nation’s theaters, removing excess sexuality and violence until, sometimes, what was left made almost no sense at all. Couples who lived “in sin” found themselves with marriage licenses or merely dating, soldiers and prison inmates never cursed but were occasionally permitted to use poor grammar, gay characters went straight — and, in the case of the great noir thriller, “Crossfire,” became Jewish into the bargain — and so it went.

More recently, the trend has been to either completely send something up or to darken it and make it more “real,” as if darkness and reality were identical. (Closer, maybe, but not identical.) Still, we can rest assured that, like “The A-Team,” the proposed movie version of “The Equalizer” with Russell Crowe will be a gazillion times more violent than the television series it was based on — and I’m just talking about the moment when Crowe finds craft services forgot to provide that brand of organic ketchup he really likes. Heck, even the 100% inevitable sequel to “The Karate Kid” will surely be darker than the first because, you know, this time, he’s pubescent!

Still, as the studios grow so desperate for a hit that some, perhaps, might be willing to consider making something not fully recycled, there’s always someone willing to take a property in the darker direction it really needs to go. Who cares if the core audience is under five? Someone’s got to show those goldbricking preschoolers the way the world really is. Are you with me? Well, Rob Bricken (who gets the h/t) and the creative semi-geniuses of It’s Not a Book get it. See the future of cinema, below.

  

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Well, at least he can say the F-word

As Jason Zingale points out in his upbeat review of “The Karate Kid,” Jaden Smith, who’ll be 12 next month, was 11 year’s younger when he filmed his starring role in the new version than the original star, Ralph Macchio. And if, like me, you have to scratch your head when you wonder where Macchio has been since “My Cousin Vinny,” well there’s an explanation.

Well, at least there’s an explanation for why he still looks like he’s just about ready to get out of college despite being three years older than his “Vinny” costar (Marisa Tomei, I mean). It’s possibly related to the fact, against all good Hollywood tradition, he’s been married to the same woman for 23 years, has raised two kids without public incident, and has an apparently clean criminal record. It’s a clear conscience. A very clear conscience. An extremely clear conscience…

Wax On, F*ck Off with Ralph Macchio from Ralph Macchio
  

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Just in case you thought I was kidding…

….in my last post about pretty much guaranteeing you more entertainment from just about any of the film Jackie Chan made in his eighties and nineties prime than from either of this week’s two major releases, I bring you two absolutely awesome — as in awe-inspiring — clips. The first is “Drunken Master 2” aka “The Legend of the Drunken Master. ” If memory serves at all, it’s a better film than the original “Drunken Master” and you should have no worries seeing it first.

Even though the clip above is dubbed, I strongly recommend that you watch all Hong Kong films in the original language. The acting is quite good for the most part in the better films, and the Cantonese-to-English dubbing always makes a hash of the performances.

And now a scene from the Jackie Chan movie that gave me the most pure fun, “Project A, Part II.” Once again, I and most others think this a better movie than the original “Project A” and it’s not at all necessary to see it first.

In all fairness to “The Karate Kid” it’s hard to imagine anything remotely like this in any American film you’re likely to see. Agreed?

  

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Eighties redos to battle at the box office

Karate_Kid_2010_Jackie_Chan_Jaden_Smith

I’m severely limited for time — and more than a bit tired after a busy and reasonably productive day — so this may be one of my shortest box office preview posts.

This week’s two major new releases are reboots of properties remembered fondly by many children of the 1980s, “The A-Team” and “The Karate Kid.” Both movies have been supplied with some well known names, Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan for the former and Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, and Jessica Biel for the latter.

Jolly Carl DiOrio doesn’t go so far as to predict which film will emerge on top, with both having some fairly obvious broad appeal. I’ll say that my personal hunch is that Sony’s “Kid” will take the lead because, with a PG rating, it’s definitely more of a family film than the more violent and adult-oriented PG-13 “A-Team” from Fox. The martial arts flick also would seem to have more appeal for female audience members for similar reasons. It certainly seems extremely likely, in any case, that “Kid” will be the more profitable film by far, as we’re led to believe it cost $40 million, while the Joe Carnahan directed “Team” cost something more like $95 million. Both movies got mixed-to-meh reviews at “Rotten Tomatoes.”

Will these action flicks rescue Hollywood from the box office blahs? All I know is that I have no strong desire to see either of them and I’m not sure Hollywood deserves any better than its getting. In fact, without having seen these new movies, I feel safe in assuring anyone reading this that, if you’re at all open to them, you’ll be vastly more entertained by renting almost any of Jackie Chan’s amazing eighties and nineties Hong Kong films. I know I’d really like to see “Project A, Part II” — an ingenious slapstick comedy adventure — or any of the “Supercop” movies again soon. Like, right now.

  

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