Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Pixelated Invisibility

Guam Mentions are always interesting. The random places that Guam will appear in the speech of military planners, world leaders, comedians and filmmakers is always so intriguing to me. Taking serious these mentions are sort of traces of the structure of American imperialism and colonialism was the main theoretical intervention of my dissertation. Moving away from seeing the random way that Guam gets mentioned sometimes whether it be by Bob Hope or David Letterman as actually possessing serious meaning and truth and not just being an accidental or random mention. For most the flexibility and labiality of meaning attached to Guam, the occasional invisibility that it is shouldered with or assumed is just a misrecognition, is something people say just because they don't know better or something you can just attribute to ignorance. But for me there is far more that just that. The colonial status of Guam and the ability to shift and produce meaning for it, the ability to move troops there and not have anyone notice, the ability to keep colonies and not have anyone challenge it (from within or without) means that there is a power to having places that seem to matter to no one, where your control goes uncontested. 

Militaries, empires, any entity that has interests in projecting force and dominating space always craves a dual approach to power. They are invested in pure force, moments and spaces where the rawness of power can be rooted in explosive and massive demonstrations. Bombings, war games, anything to make clear the power that one grapples with and how easily and casually it might be unleashed. But at the same time there is always a desire for sanctuary, for security, for safety, that there be places where no antagonism exists, but where one can store power safely without anyone contesting its presence or the directions it flows. While a military, an empire always professes to adore that hypervisibility and aggressive representations, we also see movements to hide, to obscure, to create nodes through which force travels and no one notices. That is in a way more valuable. To find the sites where one can militarize and no one notices or better yet, no one cares. It is one thing to hide things where no one sees them, but it is a whole different level of sovereignty to place that power before all and have no one even question it. 

Such is the value of Guam, and part of this dynamic can be seen in the article below. 


'Pixels' director: Better to attack Guam than Pearl Harbor
Apr. 17, 2015
Written by
Kyle Daly
Pacific Daily News

Hollywood director Chris Columbus thought using Guam in an upcoming alien invasion film would be a “good solid visual alternative” to Pearl Harbor, because featuring the Hawaii location could offend veterans.

The film, “Pixels,” starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James, is set to hit theaters in July. A trailer for the movie shows alien invaders flying down Guam’s Route 1 and destroying a road sign that reads: “Andersen Air Force Base 2 Miles.”

In an email sent to Sony Pictures Entertainment executives in November 2013, Columbus stated that in the latest draft of the movie's script, Pearl Harbor had been replaced by Guam as a way not to offend veterans. The email is among a massive trove of hacked documents from the movie company recently published online by WikiLeaks, an organization known for publishing secret documents.

“Guam is obviously is not as iconic as Pearl Harbor,” Columbus wrote. “But we had offended many veterans with the choice of Pearl Harbor and I can’t make a movie that could potentially cause pain to our soldiers.”

Another email sent between Sony employees also mentions changes to a draft of the script, including scenes featuring Guam.

The email states: “The small scene in Guam no longer features the OLD MAN character being blown off of his chair as the alien ships pass by.”

The email goes on to state: “The Guam scene of the Gallaga ships attacking was adjusted in the last draft to focus more on HANDSOME SAILOR getting abducted.”

According to IMDB and the film’s trailer, the alien invaders in “Pixels” mistake 1980s video game feeds as a declaration of war.  They attack the Earth by taking on the form of video-game characters such as Donkey Kong and Pac-Man.

A longtime Hollywood filmmaker, Columbus is best known for directing movies such as “Home Alone,” “Home Alone 2,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” and the first two “Harry Potter” films.

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