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Analytical Essay

 

Analytical Essay

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Analytical Essay

Hollywood is the capital of the American film industry. Many, if not all, of Hollywood films are viewed around the world. Hollywood features expansive film studios. Such studios have vast resources that enable them to produce films of high standards. As a result, these Hollywood firms dominate the global film production industry. Consequently, Hollywood has managed to export American culture to other countries. In some societies, the American norms have been accepted, while, in others they have been condemned. It is argued that America wishes to gain recognition and new ties with other societies by exporting its culture, through its films. To maintain its status-quo as a global superpower, America has continuously adapted films released by its studios for various markets (McCrisken, T. B., & Pepper, A., 2005).

Production of films is of great importance to our societies. Films are widely regarded as the representation of a society’s culture. It is important to note that the art of film making is unitary. It combines nearly all art forms into a single experience for the audience. Film is an important medium for social history. It provides a platform for future exposure to the respective audiences. Similarly, films have a great impact on societal culture. They greatly impact the society on various questions such as class, gender and race. Following the globalization of different markets, films are easily distributable.

The art of film making now reaches many audiences across the world. It is often said that good films are not hindered by a language barrier. As a result, markets like China have become crucial to the Hollywood Film Industry’s success. Currently, the Chinese movie market is second only to the United States. In the year 2012, it grossed revenues exceeding $10 billion (Motion Picture Association of America, 2011). However, the market is poised to overtake the United States as the premier market. This is attributable to the Chinese mainland’s increased income per capita. The Chinese growth rate stands at around 6.5 percent.

Chinese society is rather distinct from the Western norms. First, it is important to note China’s political underpinnings. The country is a socialist state. Consequently, there exists a great sense of mutuality between the Chinese people. The Chinese culture is relatively conservative. As a result, there exists a broad line between what are acceptable and unacceptable norms. This has extended to artistic content such as films. It is common for some scenes in Hollywood films to be censored or adapted for viewing in mainland China. The Chinese society follows a naturalistic way of life. Consequently, there exists a sense of simplicity. Therefore, the notion of class is difficult to come by. In recent times, the modernization of China has led to a growth in the middle-class population. This has resulted in greater demand for Hollywood productions.

Chinese culture upholds family relations. It is especially important to note them as defined by Confucian ethics. Consequently, the Chinese uphold a moral standard of mutual dependence. It is therefore clear that, the notions of success and failure are mutual to the society. China is a dominantly male society. However, strides have been made in sharing out the gender roles. China is a relatively multicultural society. It consists of the Han, Tibetans, the Mongols, Russians and Korean peoples, amongst others. It is therefore a society that places little importance to racial backgrounds. The various races in Chinese are well integrated.

Due to better distribution efforts, many blockbuster films from Hollywood have made their way into the Chinese market. For instance, action movies such as Pearl Harbor and Fast Five have achieved relatively great success to contrary expectations. The film Pearl Harbor details an American perspective of earlier historical events in World War 2. It tells of the Japanese attack on the Hawaiian Island of Pearl Harbor in 1942. The movie was directed by Michael Bay and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Following its release in 2001, the film was financially successful, despite mixed reviews. The reviews are attributable to various factors. For instance, Randall Wallace, the film’s writer, chose the path of historical inaccuracy. The film expresses the pain and tragedies of war on the American people in its plot.

The film ‘Pearl Harbor’ engages the questions of family, race, class and gender in various ways. In the film, two boys, Rafe McCawley and Danny Walker grow up together and become great friends. During one scene, the boys are playing in an old aircraft. They subsequently start it, to the dismay of Danny’s father when he arrives (Bay, M., Bruckheimer, J., Wallace, R., Affleck, B., Hartnett, J., Beckinsale, K., Bremner, E., … Buena Vista Home Entertainment (Firm), 2001). This shows that there exists a boundary between what children are allowed to do and what they are not allowed to. When Danny’s father orders him to leave, Danny obeys immediately. This shows the great respect that Danny has for his father.

In Chinese family life, there exists strong respect for members of each family. There are actions that each member is allowed to. In Confucian ethics, there exist different types of human relationships. Of importance to us are the sovereign-subject and father-son relations. The father-son relationship exhibits similar characteristics to a sovereign-subject relationship in the Chinese society (C, D. H., 2013). In the film, Mr. Walker hits Danny for wrongdoing. In Chinese culture, this is seen as appropriate. The film goes well with Chinese audiences as they consider a father’s words of more significance than the child’s opinion.

The film ‘Pearl Harbor’ shows great interaction with various political issues of the day. The movie is based on the historical Japanese attack on the American island of Hawaii. In earlier scenes, Pearl Harbor displays Japanese military generals. The film shows how they plan their attacks and explains their reason behind it. It is claimed that they hoped to prevent American forces from entering World War 2. The film also explains that the Japanese forces hoped to receive oil imports from the United States once again, following the attack. However, it shows that the reverse happens to the Japanese geopolitical strategy.  Similarly, the movie shows how the United States plots to attack Tokyo.

The political themes addressed in the film are of historical importance to Chinese audiences. Following the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, the Japanese forces pushed into Northern China and occupied it. This resulted into the Sino-Japanese wars. With regards to the World War 2 period, the Chinese also identify with the Japanese as their enemy. The anger in Chinese audiences is attributable to the fact over 20 million Chinese people lost their lives at the hands of the Japanese invaders (Dudden, 2005). Therefore, Pearl Harbor addresses political issues that affected the Chinese during that period of history. In the film, Chinese forces are even shown as they assist the attacked American troops. Therefore, the film’s American political ideologies are relatively compatible with those of a Chinese audience.

In the film, the film addresses the issue of race in a number of conflicting ways. First, it portrays the Japanese people as a bloodthirsty society. Less time is spent on showing the rationale behind the attack on Pearl Harbor. Instead, there is more focus on the Japanese soldiers firing behind machine guns as Tokyo is bombed by the American forces. To alleviate the racial concerns brought forward by the Japanese, the film introduces Doris Miller (Cuba Gooding Jr.). Miller is a ship’s cook who fired an anti-aircraft gun at the attacking Japanese planes in Pearl Harbor. In one scene, the film highlights positive interaction between people of different races. Miller (an African-American) is treated by Evelyn (a white). However, most people serving in the American forces are of white race. African-American individuals are portrayed working in the lesser kitchens and maintenance departments.

In the Chinese society, the film elicited varying reactions. As stated earlier, China is very much a multicultural society. Due to that, racial flare-ups may arise from time to time. In China, the minority races such as the Uyghur people are regarded as ‘culturally inferior’. Similarly, other minorities are treated as ‘barbarians’ (Kyodo News, 2007). The film ‘Pearl Harbor’ taints the Japanese people in a negative light. Due to inconsistencies in history, as depicted by the story line, the film misinforms the current generation of younger Chinese people. Consequently, this may lead to tensions with their Japanese neighbors. Contempt for the Japanese is common in mainland China. For instance, the Japanese people are taunted as ‘Japanese devils’ or ‘little Chinese’ by some.

In many films, women are assigned with a supportive duty. Most decision making lies with the males. The film ‘Pearl Harbor’ portrays the two genders participating in different roles. The women portrayed in the film provide support services to the wounded soldiers, as nurses. They aid in treating them and ensuring their recovery to full health. However, the film goes further. Evelyn Johnson (Kate Beckinsale) is placed at the center of two competing men. The film succeeds in portraying male characteristics as a result. For instance, possession, as the two men struggle to win Evelyn’s affection.

In Chinese society, the traditional gender roles are very much upheld. The roles are defined by different generations that inhabited China. To some extent, the gender roles described in Pearl Harbor also apply to the Chinese society. Men possess most of the dominant positions of power in that society. This is in tandem with the Confucian thought of male dominance over the female gender. On the other hand, women mostly participate in household duties, especially in rural China. However, it is important to note that there is a sense of gender blur in China. In Taoist philosophy, the concepts of ying and yang exist. This is carried forward to the gender roles, highlighting their equality. Guthrie (2009) states that, in Chinese urban regions, such as Shanghai, the roles are less defined.

‘Fast & Furious 5: Rio Heist’ is a sequel to the action packed ‘Fast and Furious’ street racing films. It was directed by Justin Lin, and first released on April 20, 2011. The film was produced by Vin Diesel, Michael Fottrell and Neal Moritz. Chris Morgan is responsible for writing the film’s story. The film was relatively successful, becoming the seventh highest-grossing film in that year. The film revolves around the exploits of O’Conner (Paul Walker) and Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), as they seek their freedom from legal prosecution. To achieve this, they are required to various objects in the course of the plot. However, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) stands in their path to freedom.

The film achieved relative success in the Chinese movie market. It managed over $40 million in box-office sales, achieving fourth place. In the film, various issues and thematic concerns are raised. Fast five covers cultural and political concerns. Consequently, questions of family, race, class and gender are given broader meaning. However, the film contains very little coverage of history in its plot. The film mainly centers on a car and racing culture. This is depicted through the various high speed chases. Fast five displays politics in its plot as Dominic and his friends attempt to secure his freedom. They are planning a heist, to raise funds for traveling to a country that does not share an extradition treaty with the United States.

The question of race is well covered in the film ‘Fast Five’. The movie features actors from various racial backgrounds. Similarly, the story is cast in Brazil, a highly multicultural society. That sort of diversification enables various audiences to feel included. Consequently, the film achieves greater revenues. In the film, members of different races interact positively. Some characters date and even marry each other. For instance, Gisele Yashar (Gal Gaddot) is attracted to Han Seoul-Oh (Sung Kang), an Asian. The film takes the role of reconciling various races. This is quite different from the separatist approach that Pearl Harbor takes.

In the Chinese market, Fast five is of great relevance in a racial context. As stated earlier, the Chinese society is a class-based society that discriminates in terms of race, from time to time. The approach taken by the film unites audiences of different backgrounds as the plot unfolds. This is useful in uniting a multicultural society such as the Chinese one. Fast five is different from Pearl Harbor in that, it does not create an object of hate for the Chinese society. However, it is important to note that the film takes a progressive stance towards the aforementioned question. China has a rather conservative society, which is contradictory to the film’s stance. This is another key difference between Fast five and the conservative Pearl Harbor.

Fast five is a film containing few questions on family. At the beginning, Dominic is broken out of custody by his sister Mia, and his friend Brian. Throughout the plot, the three maintain a strong bond that can be described as familial. Similarly, the film features various references to family values. For instance, Dominic Toretto says, “Money will come and go. We all know that. The most important thing in life will always be the people in this room. Right here, right now. Salute, mi familia.” (Lin, J., Diesel, V., Fottrell, M., Moritz, N. H., Morgan, C., Walker, P., Brewster, J., … Universal Studios Home Entertainment (Firm), 2011 )

The depiction of family and its values in the film is important to the Chinese market. China’s culture maintains a strong correlation with the family institution. For instance, one person’s honor and failures extend to his/her respective family members. In Fast Five, Brian achieves entry into the Toretto family through his relationship with Mia. This is similar to Chinese culture.

In the film, there is a great sense of gender balance. Both male and female characters participate in moving the plot forward. For instance, Mia and Brian help each other out in breaking Dominic out of federal custody. The male gender is depicted by confident characters that are able to get the job done, such as Dominic Toretto and Brian Walker. Similarly, the female gender is displayed by smart characters. They are a core part of the plot. Mia and Gisele prove themselves as tough individuals. In the process, they get rid of the notion that action films are a male forte. Characters such as Elena (Elsa Pataky) play an important role in creating gender balance in roles. She is of great assistance to Hobbs as they pursue the fugitives. In this light, it is seen that the question of gender is tackled differently from Pearl Harbor, in this film. There is greater balance and sharing of gender roles in Fast five.

As stated earlier, the Chinese society is highly patriarchal. Therefore, roles are more limited to each gender. However, in urban regions, there is some sense of blur between the roles of male and female individuals. The film’s ideology is relevant to the Chinese society in the urban context. The shared roles between characters like Neves and Hobbs highlights the aforementioned sense of blur.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

Bay, M., Bruckheimer, J., Wallace, R., Affleck, B., Hartnett, J., Beckinsale, K., Bremner, E., … Buena Vista Home Entertainment (Firm). (2001). Pearl Harbor. United States: Touchstone Home Video.

C, D. H. (2013). Dragon, image, and demon, or, the three religions of china: Confucianism, buddhism and taoism. S.l.: Hardpress Ltd.

Dudden, A. (2005). Japan’s colonization of Korea: Discourse and power. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Guthrie, D. (2009). China and globalization: The social, economic and political transformation of Chinese society. New York: Routledge.

Kyodo News (2007). Ethnic tensions still a problem in China: report – www.phayul.com. Retrieved from http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?id=15227&t=1

Lin, J., Diesel, V., Fottrell, M., Moritz, N. H., Morgan, C., Walker, P., Brewster, J., … Universal Studios Home Entertainment (Firm). (2011). Fast five. Universal City, CA: Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

McCrisken, T. B., & Pepper, A. (2005). American history and contemporary Hollywood film. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press.

Motion Picture Association of America. (2011). Theatrical market statistics 2011. Washington, D.C.: Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.

 

 

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