Friday, June 11, 2010

The Politics of 'The Karate Kid'

Marc Werman of PRI's The World speaks with Matthew Polly, author of the bestseller 'American Shaolin' about the political and economic overtones of 'The Kung Fu Karate Kid':

WERMAN: Matthew, on the surface it’s the old Charles Atlas story, you know, boy gets sand kicked in his face, boy learns to fight back, boy triumphs.  But it’s not just a boy, he’s an African American kid who has ended up in China because his mom’s Detroit auto factory job got outsourced to Beijing and that’s not such a subtle statement about the U.S. economy is it?

MATTHEW POLLY: No, I think that’s the most fascinating thing about the movie.  Instead of the first one was set in L.A. with the Okinawan or Japanese soldier who was teaching the boy and here we have the entire family from Detroit moving to Beijing and starting a life all over.  So the sense of ascendency of China is very prevalent in this movie.

WERMAN: There also seems to be a message about Detroit’s main product, automobiles, and how China has taken to automobiles as well.

POLLY: Oh without question.

Have to agree with Polly's assessment. I think this country is in for a radical revision in its economic standing in relation to the world, especially rising super-powers like China and India. A bit scary.

Funny that such a message would be interwoven into mainstream bubble-gum like 'The Karate Kid', though. 

Rest of interview including MP3 download.

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