Think China isn't really America's rival? Just look at the box office.

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

It might come as a surprise to learn that two of this summer's movie blockbusters have China to thank for their successes. "The Meg", a Chinese-American co-production, raked in $467 million to date— surpassing the box office success of films like "Solo: a Star Wars Film." Sure, "Solo" underperformed, but outdoing a Star Wars film is still a mighty achievement. And "Crazy Rich Asians," the best-performing romantic comedy in a decade, was built on the strength of its' unexpected cross-demographic appeal. These are merely the two latest examples of the meteoric rise of Chinese influence in the movie industry. And the shifting geography of the movie industry is just further proof of China's move toward the spotlight on the global stage.

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Increasingly, American blockbusters are reliant on the Chinese moviegoer. This summer saw record numbers for Hollywood's top performing films––but "Avengers: Infinity War," "Mission Impossible," "Ant-Man and The Wasp," and "The Incredibles 2" all owe their success to being hits in China. The domestic gross of most movies usually accounts for 30-50 percent of its total revenue. The international gross accounts for the other half, and China now accounts for nearly half of any non-domestic revenue. For instance, the underperformance of"Solo" in China doomed the film to be a financial failure. As a result, casting in Hollywood has been shifted, with Chinese stars like Donnie Yen and Fan Bingbing cast in immense franchises like Star Wars and X-Men in an attempt to make headlines in China.

Meanwhile, Americans have had almost nothing to do with the meteoric success of Chinese blockbusters. Mammoths like "Wolf Warrior 2" earned $870 million last year––more than "Thor: Ragnarok" and "Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2." Yet only $2 million of that amount was made in America. These aren't the only successes. Since 2010, 31 films from China have broken $100 million at the box office. Of those, only 13 of those films grossed one million dollars in the US, and only one film, "The Meg," broke $100 million. In other words, Chinese films perform miserably in America, yet boast incredible global market success. Major financial stumbles like "Asura", the most expensive Chinese film in history that was pulled from theatres after only a week, seem like hiccups instead of signs of weakness.

From a political standpoint, China's film industry is certainly worth watching.

From a political standpoint, China's film industry is certainly worth watching. Our own status as a cultural superpower is intrinsically tied to the power of our cultural exports. Jazz, for instance, was pivotal in Cold War Diplomacy. America would send jazz musicians to Soviet satellite nations to expose them to American culture and inspire ideological allies inside these countries. Jazz, centered musically around the tension between structure and improvisation, was a perfect metaphor for communicating America's relationship with democracy and freedom. China clearly understands the power of art in communicating cultural values, which is part of why only around 34 foreign films are allowed into the Chinese market by the Communist Party of China, minimizing the influence of foreign ideologies within the Chinese state

When it comes to international relations, this is pivotal. Music, books, films, and art are the most influential agents of cultural values. The greatest testament to American values are books like "To Kill a Mockingbird," the music of N.W.A, the films of Steven Spielberg, and the art of Georgia O'Keeffe. These works center around equality under the law, civil rights, freedom of speech and conscience, and individualism. China, as it rises in economic, political, and military might, will need to spread Chinese values in order to win over allies and have other nations accommodate China as a superpower. The Chinese film industry is currently China's best bet in spreading its own national values, such as harmony and filial piety.

The British Empire and the Soviet Union were two other major powers that have used culture to help solidify the values of the political class. Britain spent hundreds of years artistically creating the notion of empire, seen in the works like "H.M.S. Pinafore" and the literature of Rudyard Kipling. The Soviet Union used art to propagandize socialist values of the state through the posters of Dmitry Moor and literature of Mikhail Sholokhov. Both of them managed to effectively propagandize their own legitimacy as superpowers through the cultural ambassadorship of their artistic works.

As China increasingly flexes its military and economic muscles internationally, the Chinese film industry reflects these global changes, resulting in the massive success of films like "Wolf Warrior 2". If Americans want to know how China views its global status, looking at the box office can be one of the best ways. As the US and China enter a trade war and start jockeying for global positioning, America needs to be careful to not lose one of its most celebrated industries to its ascendant rival.

Christian Thrailkill is a musician, graduate of Southern Methodist University, and a Young Voices contributor. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

A new Pew Research Center report shows the death toll in the United States from COVID-19 is "heavily concentrated" in Democratic congressional districts.

According to the analysis, more than half of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. occurred in just 44 (approximately 10 percent of) congressional districts, and 41 of those 44 hardest-hit districts are represented by Democrats, while only three are represented by Republicans.

"A new Pew Research Center analysis of data on official reports of COVID-19 deaths, collected by the John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, finds that, as of last week, nearly a quarter of all the deaths in the United States attributed to the coronavirus have been in just 12 congressional districts – all located in New York City and represented by Democrats in Congress. Of the more than 92,000 Americans who had died of COVID-19 as of May 20 (the date that the data in this analysis was collected), nearly 75,000 were in Democratic congressional districts," Pew reported.

Filling in for Glenn Beck on the radio program this week, Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere argued that, while the coronavirus should never have been made into a partisan issue, the study certainly makes a strong statement in favor of GOP leadership.

Watch the video below:


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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) once predicted the coronavirus death rate would be between 4 and 5 percent, but they've just come out with a new report and those predictions have been adjusted significantly.

According to the CDC's latest data, the fatality rate among Americans showing COVID-19 symptoms is 0.4 percent. And an estimated 35 percent who are infected by the virus will never have any symptoms. Therefore, the CDC is now estimating COVID-19 kills less than 0.3 percent of people infected.

Filling in for Glenn Beck on the radio program this week, Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere recalled when the mainstream media went into overdrive, hammering President Donald Trump for predicting the final COVID-19 death rate would be "under one percent."

Looks like the president was right all along.

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

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Michigan barber Karl Manke isn't a troublemaker. He's a law-abiding citizen who did everything possible to financially survive during the COVID-19 lockdown. pandemic. Eventually, he had no other option: he had to reopen his business in defiance of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home orders.

In an interview on the "Glenn Beck Radio Program," Manke, 77, told Glenn, "I'm not backing down" despite Whitmer's seemingly vindictive attempts to shut down his business.

Shortly after reopening, Manke was ticketed for violating Whitmer's stay-at-home order and charged with a misdemeanor. When he still refused to close his doors, the governor's office went a step further and suspended his barber license.

"It's kind of a vindictive thing," said Manke. "I've become a worm in her brain ... and she is going full force, illegally, when legislatures told her that she was out of place and this was not her assignment, she decided to take it anyway."

On Thursday, the Shiawassee County Circuit Judge refused to issue a preliminary injunction against Manke. Read more on this update here.

Watch the video clip from the interview below:

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Time after time, Americans have taken to the streets to defend our constitutional rights, whether it was our livelihood at stake -- or our lives. But, what was the point of all the civil rights movements that came before, if we're about to let the government take our rights away now?

On his Wednesday night special, Glenn Beck argued that Americans are tired of having our rights trampled by "tyrannical" leaders from state and local governments who are ignoring our unalienable rights during this pandemic.

"Our nanny state has gone too far. The men and women in office -- the ones closest to our communities, our towns, our cities -- are now taking advantage of our fear," Glenn said. "Like our brothers and sisters of the past, we need to start making the decisions that will put our destiny, and our children's destiny, back into our hands."

It took less than two months of the coronavirus tyranny to make America unrecognizable, but some Americans are fighting back, risking losing their jobs and businesses or even jail time, as they battle to take back our civil rights.

Here are just a few of their stories:

After New Jersey's Atilis Gym reopened in defiance of the governor's executive order, the Department of Health shut them down for "posing a threat to the public health." Co-owner Ian Smith says somebody sabotaged the gym's toilets with enire rolls of paper to create the public health "threat."

Oregon Salon owner, Lindsey Graham, was fined $14 thousand for reopening. She said she was visited by numerous government organizations, including Child Protective Services, in what she believes are bullying tactics straight from the governor's office.

77-year-old Michigan barber, Karl Manke, refused to close his shop even when facing arrest. "I couldn't go another 30 days without an income," he said. But when local police refused to arrest him, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's (D) office suspending his business license instead.

Port of Seattle police officer Greg Anderson was suspended after he spoke out against enforcing what he called "tyrannical orders" imposed amid coronavirus lockdowns.

Kentucky mother-of-seven, Mary Sabbatino, found herself under investigation for alleged child abuse after breaking social distancing rules at a bank. After a social worker from child protective services determined there was no sign of abuse, he still sought to investigate why the Sabbatino's are homeschooling, and how they can give "adequate attention to that many children."

Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther was sentenced to seven days in jail after she defied the state-mandated stay-at-home orders to reopen her business.

Watch the video clip from Glenn's special below:


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