Burma, Hollywood and the Politics of Entertainment
For almost a century, movies about or set in Burma, particularly those made by the major American studios, have had certain elements in common. While emphasizing its more colourful and exotic characteristics, they have either romanticized the country or depicted it as a remote and untamed wilderness. Also, Burma has served as a backdrop for dramatic Occidental adventures, in which the local inhabitants played little role. More recent movies pay the Burmese people greater attention, but they are still secondary to the main plot, even when the movies consciously draw attention to the current military regime's human rights abuses. In films like Beyond Rangoon and Rambo, however, complex issues are over-simplified or exaggerated to the point of unreality. These movies have proved effective at planting vivid images in the popular mind and helping to mobilize support for the country's opposition movement (including in Hollywood itself), but crude and misleading messages such as those sent by Rambo can actually hinder the resolution of Burma's many problems.
Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies
Screen and Media Culture