Recently, the movie, “Olympus Has Fallen” sparked outrage from viewers including a flurry of “kill Asians”, “I hate Asians”, and “I should get a gun and shoot all of the Asians” tweets, comments, and messages across the internet. Never mind that North Korea is only a very small part of Asia, yet none of these people directed their hatred exclusively toward North Koreans. The U.S. could bomb Bangladesh tomorrow and these viewers wouldn’t know the difference, but what they wouldknow is that the people in the target country were so Asian, they deserved it.
Anytime an international conflict arises inthe United States, and North Korea is no exception, most of the population divides itself. One side finds itself believing that “the enemy” is dangerous and evil and needs to be stopped before it destroys the universe. The other side finds itself wondering why “the enemy” is dangerous and evil and why it needs to be stopped. There may be a small percentage sitting in a corner that doesn’t believe either of these scenarios. These few probably don’t have a television or watch movies.
Regardless of the chosen position, a great deal of preparation goes into getting Americans ready for conflict. Few people will say they enjoy war or death, unless they can be convinced that “theenemy” as a whole are just evil enough that they deserve it. What better way to do such a thing than by way of the greatest sources of American education since Facebook news: television and movies Here are a few more examples of Hollywood’s contribution in preparing us to hate.
World War II
Television and movies, right down to Bugs Bunny and Superman led the way in preparing us to fight off evil Japanese people, with many villains of the 1940s being Japanese or at least a caricature of beings who appeared Japanese. It may be a stretch to blame cartoons or superheroes for over 127,000 Japanese Americans being “relocated” to internment camps, but the act of labeling an entire race as “bad guys” may have had a little help from television and media. After all, if Captain America has to fight them off, we should also. Otherwise, there is little left to explain that such a thing occurred without a large part of non-Asian Americans pointing it out and saying “hmmm…this doesn’t seem right”. It is possible that this large population of non-Japanese Americans had already seen so many examples of “the enemy”, that there was no way that even Japanese Americans could be trusted and likewise, needed to be imprisoned for the sake of the country’s security.
We don’t pay as much attention to Russia as we once did, but the hatred and suspicion of the Soviet Union of the past is just now beginning to fade away. During the cold war, there was an extreme hatred for anything of the Soviet Union or communism, and Russia’s ability to build nuclear weapons similar to the ones used against Japan in World War II, did little to ease the tension. As the country that was once synonymous with “communist”, there is no shortage of evil Russian bad guys in the media. Interestingly enough, the original Red Dawn was anti-Russian. In the remake of 2010, the Russian villains were supposed to be changed into Chinese villains and then post production, the Chinese villains had to be changed into North Korean villains. One can only speculate that this change was required because Russians are no longer bad guys, and North Koreans clearly are. Also, MGM may have realized they needed Chinese people to like this movie. The fact that they felt they could replace an entire country of Asian people for another is indicative of the underlying disregard for race and culture at MGM and across the movie industry.
The Middle East
A long list of movies and television shows exist which showcase the evils of Muslim people and Arab people, including Aladdin, Indiana Jones, the Mummy, and an entire season of 24, where Middle Eastern people are almost always depicted as dangerous, deceptive, stupid or barbaric. Combine this with the events of 9/11, and you have the equation that Muslim and Arab = terrorist, successfully engrained in many Americans’ brains; So much so that even the president has been falsely regarded as being Muslim, and thus a terrorist. Because of this, a small section of the population will always believe that our very own president is a terrorist for no reason other than the false assumption that he worships a different God. This stereotype also affects any person of any religion or nation which wears a turban. For example, in the Wisconsin shooting which occurred in a Sikh Temple, none of these people were Muslim or Arab, but because of the turbans, were labeled as such. It had to be clarified numerous times, that Sikhs are not Muslim, as if that made the shooting any better or worse.
It will be interesting to see how many more movies and television shows will feature the crazy and deadly North Korean in the future. At the least, the entertainment industry should not be a source of education for Americans on different cultures, religions, or even nationalities. As seen in the past, it takes years and generations to repair stereotypes- we could, at the very least, learn to be a little wiser in determining who the bad guys are.