The United States has no greater rival than China right now. While Russia is a threat and we need to consider it so, China is on a completely different level. Right now, they’re running literal concentration camps and absolutely no one seems inclined to do anything about it.
At least people decried the gulags, despite them being more prison than an attempt at ethnic cleansing.
Yet the secret to defeating China isn’t that secret. The problem is corporate America, particularly Hollywood but also its colleagues in other branches of the entertainment industry, is simply unwilling to follow through.
Years ago, the Soviet Union was the greatest existential threat the country had ever known. The USSR’s goal was the spread of communism, a goal that simply could not happen so long as the United States existed.
This tension laid the groundwork for the Cold War.
Where the US had an advantage, though, was a weapon that looked distinctively different. We had tanks and planes and nuclear weapons, but we also had popular culture.
The Soviets didn’t like it. America’s culture was subversive. It was unabashedly about freedom, even when it explicitly tried to endorse communism. The Soviet government did everything it could to keep American pop culture out of their country.
Yet, like the Streisand Effect, the moment you try to deny something to the people, the more curious for that thing they become.
A thriving black market developed for music, movies, television, and books. People were desperate for a taste of the United States.
Of course, let’s also remember that during this era, Hollywood didn’t blink at making the Soviets bad guys. From any spy thriller to movies like Red Dawn, the Russians were presented as evil and American audiences loved it.
Eventually, though, that flow of popular culture showed the Russian people that there was another way. They saw that communism was a failed experiment and that free markets were a better way to go.
Communism fell and the Soviet Union was no more.
Fast forward a few decades and there’s a new Cold War brewing, only China is our antagonist.
Again, a communist nation stands against the juggernaut of the free market, but things are different. Now, Hollywood isn’t interested in helping.
In fairness, there are reasons.
Whereas the Soviet Union did everything it could to keep popular culture out, China is more than willing to let it in…but to a point.
See, China is a totalitarian hellscape, no matter how you cut it. They don’t want popular culture that undermines the nation’s leadership. They don’t want to be portrayed as the bad guys.
A prime example of that is the Red Dawn reboot.
Originally, the antagonists for the movie were supposed to be the Chinese. As a large nation rivaling superpower status, that decision made sense.
However, doing so would keep the movie out of Chinese theaters and the studio wanted that money. So, they reworked the antagonists to be North Korea, a nation so poor they couldn’t afford to see the movie anyway.
Unfortunately for the studio, no one really bought that.
I mean, North Korea can’t even feed its own people. Just how in the hell would they invade the United States?
For me, I simply watch it as if they’re just a part of a multi-national coalition that invades. Even then, it strains my suspension of disbelief.
Had it been China, though…
Now, my initial reaction was, “Hey, that’s the free market at play.” However, it’s really not. The free market wasn’t really free. It was constrained by a foreign power that has since ingrained itself into our economy as some kind of necessary market.
Movies, books, television, and what have you all revolve around keeping China happy.
I mean, look what happened when John Cena had the audacity to say that Taiwan is an actual freaking country. He was forced to issue an apology for stating a simple fact that China just prefers not to think about.
Even sports—once one of the main ways people passed the time—has drunk the China Kool-Aid. After all, look at how stars like LeBron James will pucker up for Chinese posteriors.
Folks, China isn’t our friend.
Yet if these industries stepped up and recognized that fact, maybe they could recognize that while it might be costly to alienate them in the short-term, it could ultimately be better for everyone in the long term.
As Chinese citizens realize they’re not getting the American entertainment they crave, some will seek out how to get it. Once they do, they’ll start to see how we see China. Over time, they’ll see it too.
Some do, of course, but others will. Sooner or later, those citizens will cause the country’s communist regime will unspool, collapsing under the weight of their own totalitarianism.
China will gain a freedom they’ve likely never known.
Hollywood, the music industry, and a whole host of other entities could facilitate that. The problem is, no one really wants to. For all their talk of fairness and justice, what they really want are cheap goods and huge markets for their own products and screw who all suffer because of it. Either that or they agree with them, which is both worse and more likely.
For a group of people who spend a lot of time lecturing America for its past sins, they’re oddly tolerant of China’s despite the fact that they could actually end those.