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China vs. the ’80s remakes.

China vs. the ’80s remakes. (photo)

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Welcome to the season of geopolitical incoherence. Exhibit one: “The Karate Kid,” which opens June 11th to trade on ’80s nostalgia and test the power of celeb scion Jaden Smith. Despite the decision to keep a Japanese martial art in the title (at least in the US release) in order to preserve name recognition, the film was shot and is set in Beijing, the biggest American-Chinese co-production ever.

Hey, it’s all the same giant continent — what’s a little cultural conflation between studios, so long as it allows a generation of parents to take their children to the exact same movie they lived through in their teenagerdom?

But careful which stereotypes you use. Exhibit two: “Red Dawn,” another ’80s remake which doesn’t come out til Thanksgiving but is already causing much fake controversy. No sane person would look at “Red Dawn” as a reasonable expression of the geopolitical zeitgeist.

06042010_reddawn.jpgAnd yet the 1984 original (starring, among others, Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson and Charlie Sheen) has the fever of a True Believer. John Milius really did believe that, in case of invasion, the USA would prevail against the Soviet no-goodniks. In a way, it’s tempting to believe that the inexplicable new remake, which replaces the attacking Russians with the Chinese, comes from a place of ideological purity and fanaticism. At least that would be sincere.

That, however, is not the case with the new “Red Dawn,” a movie whose paranoia — People’s Liberation Army invades America, sassy talk-radio listeners fight back — is grounded in economics rather than ideology. The Awl‘s Abe Sauer got his hands on a draft of the script and excoriated its ignorance and potential for inducing xenophobia: “It’s basically porn for survivalist militia types who believe it is ‘real’ scenarios like this that justify everything from the sale of assault rifles to electing nationalist fear-mongers.”

06082010_karatekid5.jpgHis post was immediately picked back up by Chinese state paper the People’s Daily — which, for good measure, threw in a photo of an “overseas Chinese protest” so amusingly underpopulated that whoever staged it must have been working on seriously short notice.

In the next few months, the film’s sure to provide fodder for plenty of Chinese editorials like this one claiming the new “Red Dawn” reflects fears of Chinese culture: “a sense of misunderstanding, distrust and even fear can still be seen, especially between the two peoples at a non-governmental level.” And that’s sure to continue, until the day when those peoples are able to get together to form mentor/substitute-parent relationships with one another and share emotional healing, training montages and the art of karate kung fu.

[Photos: “The Karate Kid,” Columbia, 2010; “Red Dawn,” MGM/UA, 1984]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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