The Day It’s “About” the Empire and Not “By” the Empire

Watching RRR (review forthcoming), I couldn’t help but think of those poor, poor British soldiers. Maybe it’s the white in me, the kind that originates the YouTube comment genre of “you gotta give it to this Nazi guy tho.” Seriously, have you seen that shit?

This is in reference to Richard Sammel’s performance in Inglourious Basterds. A great actor, no doubt, but I’m pretty sure there’s a @dril tweet about this.

Anyway, something I love about Asian movies is when they manage to find white actors to play less than flattering roles, often in recreations of historical events. The question is sometimes, “Where’d they find this guy?” because the acting is so bad, but then it’s “Where’d they find this guy?” because he’s making the British look real fucking stupid. In Ray Stevenson’s case, I’m genuinely curious if his Irish heritage meant no lost love, either, or if it was just a paycheck and an awesome vacation.

What about future iterations of RRR and other revolutionary stories? Which actors will they find to play U.S. Marines in Iraqi productions? And can you imagine how bad the George W. Bush impressions are gonna be? I mean, how many good Nixons can you name off-hand — in American movies?

The experience of watching RRR was glorious, of course, but just as the British Empire was supplanted by the American Empire, so too will the world have this new villain to recreate and caricature in national mythology. “Respect where respect is due,” that liberal Hollywood is perfectly capable of self-directed satire (Team America: World Police being shockingly a 2004 film) and the occasional introspection (Letters from Iwo Jima), but the American blockbuster remains confused, forcing their underdog stories onto the world market. Meanwhile, our hypothetical scenario is already happening in China, and one of the features I’d love to do is Vietnamese movies about their “American War.”

In the meantime, be sure to check out RRR.

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