Thu 31 Aug 2006 6:00 AM
One news story last week that got lost in the mire
was Will Smith trying to break into India’s film market after being excluded from China. If only Smith could court China’s censorship board like his character Alex Hitchens woos the ladies in 2005’s Hitch – a lukewarm romantic footbath for a princess-and-the-pea middle class. One might be inclined to view this as evidence of China’s good taste, but considering only 20 foreign movies made the cut, this turns out to just be a happy coincidence. Making its way into the global awareness, India’s film market seems primed to welcome Smith with open arms. Bhaliwood’s been the next big thing for so long, shouldn’t it be the big thing by now? This is a rare boon for US foreign policy. The fresh prince is an ideal cultural colonist: Talented, hardworking; an embodiment of the American dream; a guru of media plurality; and an icon of America’s pretext of racial synthesis and acceptance. How can the rest of the world reject our lifestyle when they see it’s all about punching aliens and shagging coworkers? This is actually the kind of imperialism I can endorse. It’s always great when there’s a
non-violent transmission of ideas between countries. There may be a backlash against the perception that Smith’s brand of the stars and stripes is being shoved down the throat of an audience who’d like to see more movies about their own cultural identity. On the other hand, anyone who’s been to a McDonalds in another country knows that even the most rigid forms of Americanism reach a compromise of interpretation with the receiving culture. This is, perhaps, a bad example given the evil practices of the golden arches, but at least Smith probably won’t slaughter thousands of cows to make his films, and it seems unlikely that you’d become a 25-year-old diabetic from watching his movies since you were six. Though Smith most likely plans to use the low production costs in India to increase the profit margin on unvetted projects, he’ll inevitably be a bridge between the two economies, both monetarily and creatively. All in all this means that you’ll feel less and less special when you find that gem of an obscure Italian movie on Netflix and get to brag about it to all your friends. On the plus side, perhaps when we’re approaching the next country that’s entertaining the idea of nuclear warheads, we can point out that they’ve been entertained by our cinematic antics for years, so lighten up a little, eh?