In the new Hollywood blockbuster Pacific Rim, America once again saves the world in an action-packed display of computer-generated robot battles. But not everyone is happy about this outcome. According to an editorial written by a People’s Liberation Army officer and published in Chinese military mouthpiece PLA Daily, the film is propaganda aimed at “promoting U.S. values and global strategies.”
Pacific Rim is a science fiction film about a multinational force whose mission is to protect humanity from the Kaijus—giant monsters that rise from the depths of the Pacific Ocean and wreak havoc. The film was written directed by Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and has grossed nearly $400 million worldwide, with over $100 million of that in China, according to the Box Office Mojo.
Zhang Jieli, the officer who wrote the editorial, said: “Pacific Rim is another typical Hollywood film in terms of theme, plot, scenery, and leading roles. All of this corresponds to the U.S. Asia-Pacific strategy. Who the Kaijus are supposed to represent is self-evident.”
Of particular interest to Zhang was a pivotal battle scene set off of China’s southeastern coast, in which massive, human-controlled robots, called Jaegers, fight against the Kaijus near Hong Kong.
“The American mech protects Hong Kong and stabilizes the Asia Pacific, saving humanity,” Zhang mused. Meanwhile, the Kaijus’ remains become lucrative delicacies in Hong Kong and the mainland, a detail that supposedly “tarnishes China’s image.”
Further, Zhang claims that Pacific Rim depicts and supports U.S. global strategic aims. Mako, a Japanese girl orphaned in a Kaiju attack, receives American training to co-pilot the Jaeger, and says the line “I won’t leave you” to her injured American comrade in an emotional scene depicting the aftermath of a battle. “This is reminiscent of the U.S.-Japan alliance in the real world. In order to defeat the monster, the United States once again plays the role of savior and world police.”
“Not only does it seize the opportunity to deploy more mechas in the Pacific Ocean, the US also makes overtures to other countries to invest in building a 300-meter high defensive wall along the coast. After the ‘failure’ of the mecha project and having lost support from its EU allies, the United States shifts its focus to the Pacific Rim,” Zhang wrote.
This is supposed to mirror the Obama administration’s “pivot” to East Asia, in which the US plans to move 60 percent of its naval assets to the Pacific by 2020. The “pivot” is viewed by many in Beijing as a move to contain China.
In China, American films have often been the subject of official criticism. In his article, which has been reprinted in several Chinese media outlets, Zhang also gave mention to the favorites Ice Age, Lord of War, and Die Another Day as “devoted efforts by Hollywood to depict topics that can best promote U.S. values and global strategies.” Incidentally, Die Another Day, which features the British special agent James Bond, is not an American film.
Zhang concluded his piece on a decidedly militaristic note: “Soldiers, keep your eyes open to guard against Western ideology. Learn to approach Hollywood movies from another angle. It is of critical importance that you must prepare in advance, be resourceful, and deepen and expand your military readiness so as to enhance your ability to fight and win for our nation’s sovereignty, safety, development, and benefit.”