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Of Terminators, patriotism and James Bond

June 3, 2011

I’m watching Terminator Salvation on HBO and I think I know why us Asians are so cowed by foreigners, especially Americans. No it’s not the “budaya timur” bit. OK maybe a little bit. But mostly I think because of the indoctrination and preoccupation with all things western, especially American. Let’s look at movies. In Terminator Salvation the world has been overrun by machines. Humans are now at war with the machines. Interestingly enough all this happens in America. From the dialogue I can hear that things are happening in San Francisco and Los Angeles, both in America. For all you know, things are going just fine in the rest of world. Only America is overrun by machines. And only America is at war with said machines. Anyway, that’s beside the point. The point is, the hero is an American, John Connor. And he is like this cult figure amongst the guys fighting the machines.

Let’s look at another movie. I guess most people would remember Independence Day (the one where Will Smith plays a navy pilot, I think). That one was not about machines, it was about aliens attacking the Earth. Apparently the aliens have a grand design of stripping the world of its natural resources before moving to another planet. And these are ruthless aliens too. The plan was to annihilate us humans. To give some length to the storyline, they tell the story of how the Americans tried to destroy the aliens. With nukes, fighter planes and the like. And at the end of it all, who were to lead the others in fighting the aliens (successfully)? Surprise surprise, it’s the Americans, led by their President no less.

I think I can understand the sentiment behind all this. I believe part of the agenda of the movie makers is also to instill patriotism in the hearts and minds of the American public. That’s fine with me. Even the Malaysian government has all sorts of policies, the chief of which is the 1Malaysia concept. So that’s OK. The main question here is, why would us Malaysians (especially the younger set) be engrossed in all the hype and become obsessed with these foreign (and fictional) figures? I must admit that I stand accused (and guilty) of this as well. Err…to digress, am I considered as part of the younger set too?

Anyway, I am also guilty of idolising a western movie character as well. Those who are close to me would know that I’m a James Bond fan. And a hardcore one at that. Before you accuse me of “cakap tak serupa bikin” just hear me out first. I absolutely idolise the guy not for what he stands for (which is capitalism and preservation of western supremacy). In fact I couldn’t care less about those things. The thing about James Bond is, he gives me the inspiration and spirit to know that I can achieve anything. Give a situation/problem to the guy and just watch him go. He can settle any issue you throw at him. His problem solving skills are second to absolutely none. And all the while being impeccably dressed to the nines.

I know about most there is to know about James Bond and my favourite Bond is Timothy Dalton (who happens to be the least favourite Bond to the masses and other fans). I have all the DVDs. Heck, I even have Saville Row shirts! (selling at KL Sogo). For the uninitiated, Bond has his clothes tailored by Saville Row. Or the earlier Bonds at least (up to Dalton). Starting with Pierce Brosnan, they had the suits etc. tailored by Brioni. But don’t get me wrong. I like James Bond because of the abovementioned attributes and absolutely not because he gets the girls! (hypocrisy, anyone?).

Enough of Bond. Let’s think of this for one second. Can you imagine an American movie where the hero’s name is say, Yusri Bakar? (I’m picking a random name here). That would be smashing wouldn’t it? But why would they want to do that if the agenda is to instil patriotism in American hearts? Putting a Malay name (or worse, a Muslim name) would never sell the movie in a million years. You can have the best CGI, robots, UFOs and what have you. But if it involves a hero who is not American, it’s doomed to failure.

In most of the movies I’ve watched (or at least worldwide box office movies) the heroes are mostly Americans. Obviously its no coincidence that the said movies are also American made. So I honestly think we need to get a good grip on our own respective realities. Just take movies as an escapism (just like blogging) and no more. We face real problems and issues on a daily basis. No robot or a swashbuckling pirate will be helping us out on our problems anytime soon. So at the end of the day, it’s just us and the people we care about. But I see nothing wrong in making use the inspiration provided by the character we like. The point is let’s not idolise blindly, let there be a point to it. Then maybe it would not be in vain after all.

Robin Hood is showing now on HBO. Robin Hood fan, anyone?

Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights

Timothy Dalton - best Bond ever!

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