China Daily Review: Two interesting links about China today, both about America (and, of course, how it relates to China). The first is great for anyone looking for a quick chuckle about how power correlates with sports and the second is great for anyone who has seen the latest Transformers movie.
From the monolithic blog that is known as The Huffington Post comes the following hilarious hilarious post in reaction to the FIFA Confederation Cup Finals which saw the unlikely soccer-playing Americans square off against football-playing Brazil and nearly win the series up 2-0 before those Brazillians rally back 3-2 to prevent hell from freezing over. For the convenience and edification of our readers in China for which The Huffington Post is blocked by the GFW, we’ve reprinted the complete text of the post below:
So the United States lost to Brazil in the final of the FIFA Confederations cup, in that thrilling but painful tale of two halves, with the U.S. up 2-0 only to see Brazil roar back (or rather dance and prance and glide with balletic ferocity) and win 3-2. All I can say is, thank god.
For the past sixty years, the powerhouses of international soccer (a.k.a. football) either have been empires past their prime and on the decline or countries that dream fruitlessly of empire – England, France, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, and Spain. To bestride the world as a soccer power is to not bestride it as an economic or military power. In its period of global hegemony, the United States was manifestly not a global powerhouse in soccer. It was mighty in everything but the sport that is played by more people in every corner of the world than any other. And so if the United States had magically defied the odds and the gods and beaten Brazil, it would have been the final sign that American is indeed in decline.
Of course, the United States may already be in irreversible relative decline, its near miss against Brazil notwithstanding. But for a moment at least, order was maintained. The other rising global power, namely China, shares with the United States an historical ineptitude for the game.
Argentina – with its rich tradition of World Cup prowess, its intellectual sophistication and its astonishing natural resources – was once thought of a hemispheric challenger to the United States, before Juan Peron and Evita cemented the country’s fate as a montage for an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. Its victories in soccer are in almost inverse proportion to its political and economic stability.
Yet, there is the case of Brazil, which has been defying the odds and has started to demonstrate real leadership and success in today’s globalized economy. It has a confident and thriving middle class, energy independence and cutting edge use of biofuels, as well as decreasing corruption. That may explain why the national team has struggled of late, as Brazil attempts the rare feat of having both an ascendant national economy and a dominant football team.
For now, the world order is not yet dramatically upended, but as the game demonstrated and as the last year has proven, that order is in flux and the old hierarchies are unlikely to remain in place for long.
Transformers 2 as American Propaganda and Arms Advertising
Another one to categorize under “shits and giggles” is this China Youth Daily article, as translated by the ever-heroic Roland Soong of EastSouthWestNorth, which outlines three arguments for how Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was a big showcase advertisement for the sale of American arms, propaganda for all countries to cooperate with the United States, and an idealization of American soldiers. An excerpt:
Watching Transformers 2 was undoubtedly an audio-visual feast. Just like the first movie, this was not just an entertainment film for the eyes and ears, because it also reflects the ideology and attitudes of America. Through this film, the intention of the American military to promote its global strategy and armament was expressed to its fullest.
First, the advanced weaponry of the American military was fully presented in Transformers 2.
The American Defense Department provided the White Sands missile testing ground to the film crew for the final battle scene. In terms of weaponry, it provided two A-10 jet fighters, six F-16 jet fighters, ten armored Hummer vehicles, two M1A2 tanks and the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.
As everybody knows, these are the “traditional products” that America pushes in the international armaments market. The movie showed the mobility and excellent qualities of these products. They are going to be tempting for arms purchasers as well as nations in conflict zones. In reality, these are not the most advanced weaponry. For example, take the F-16 jet fighters that American likes to sell to conflict zones and third world countries. Although it has a mature technology, it is not the most advanced American jet fighter. The most advanced American jet fighter is the F-22, but it is not being exported. Technologically speaking, the F-22 is a complete generation ahead of the F-16.
In conclusion: You can watch my advanced weaponry in this movie! Come and buy some now! But I won’t sell you my best stuff! So even if you spend a lot of money, you won’t be able to beat me!
Is that whining I hear? Yes, definitely whining.
But then again, this is an article written for the home (Chinese) audience and insofar as it’ll negate or counter the possible propagandic influence such a movie might have, it’ll work. While many of us, when prompted, can easily see the commercial and patriotic tie-ins such a film certainly incorporates, there are many Chinese (and us) who might need a government mouthpiece to spell it out for them. This article does just that and, regardless of how juvenile some of the complaints or criticisms may be, one really needs to sit back and appreciate how fearsome American pop culture is influence is. After all, can we really argue that other nations can’t find American ideology and attitudes to run counter to their own national interests?
July 7th UPDATE: Imagethief’s Will Moss just published a great response to the same article, with a somewhat pornographic title – Hard robots, soft power »