Analysis by WorldTribune Staff, July 29, 2019
Well known Hollywood celebrities like to complain that President Donald Trump is an aspiring dictator. All the while, they are bowing down to one of the most authoritarian regimes on the planet, a columnist noted.
Communist China is about to become the largest film market on Earth. Last year, more movie tickets were sold in China than North America.
“To stay on Beijing’s good side, U.S. filmmakers are willing to kowtow to China’s authoritarian regime, and there seems no limit to their willingness to acquiesce,” John Fund wrote for National Review on July 28.
Fund noted that Top Gun: Maverick is a prime example of Hollywood’s bowing to Chinese censors.
After the long-awaited sequel to the 1986 classic action film that made Tom Cruise a superstar was unveiled at San Diego’s ComicCon last week “alert fans noted that the iconic leather flight jacket worn by Cruise’s character in the original film had been altered. All of the patches from the original film were there except for flags representing Chinese adversaries Japan and the Republic of China (Taiwan). Those flags were missing,” Fund wrote.
Related: Top Gun sequel: Did Chinese producer censor flags on Tom Cruise’s jacket?, July 21, 2019
“The culprits were soon pretty obvious. The Hollywood Reporter found that the Chinese company Tencent is co-financing the sequel. Co-producing the film along with Paramount Pictures is Skydance, which is partially owned by Tencent.”
Sen. Ted Cruz said in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon that “Top Gun is an American classic, and it’s incredibly disappointing to see Hollywood elites appease the Chinese Communist Party. The Party uses China’s economy to silence dissent against its brutal repression and to erode the sovereignty of American allies like Taiwan. Hollywood is afraid to stand up for free speech and is enabling the Party’s campaign against Taiwan.”
Top Gun: Maverick is not the “only example of genuflection,” Fund wrote. “China is almost uniformly portrayed in American movies as a technologically advanced superpower (see movies such as The Martian, 2012, and Looper).”
In Looper, a science-fiction drama, a time-traveler is learning French and saving his money so that he can move to Paris. But his boss, who is from the future, says he is making a mistake.
“Go to China,” he tells him. When his employee protests, the boss says, “I’m from the future, go to China.”
Fund noted that “The line was inserted at the direct order of the film’s Chinese distributors.”
In Hollywood, Fund noted, “there’s no limit to how tenderly the sensibilities of the Chinese are treated.”
In November 2018, The New York Times reported, “when the creators of the film Pixels wanted to show aliens blasting a hole in the Great Wall of China, Sony executives worried that the scene might prevent the 2015 movie’s release in China, leaked studio emails show. They blew up the Taj Mahal instead.”
There are countless other examples, Fund noted:
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End saw half the scenes featuring Chinese pirate captain Sao Feng removed by censors for “vilifying and defacing the Chinese,” the state-run Xinhua news agency reported in 2007.
“All of this is reminiscent of another time when Hollywood bent low and bowed before foreign censors,” Fund wrote. “In his book The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler (2013), Harvard scholar Ben Urwand found that Hollywood studios agreed not to make films that attacked Nazis or that depicted their harsh treatment of Jews. With barely a whimper, studios gave the Nazis veto power over films depicting almost every aspect of Nazi Germany.”
In a 2013 statement, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) said in a statement: “The adjustment of some of our films for different world markets is a commercial reality, and we recognize China’s right to determine what content enters their country. Overall, our members make films for global audiences, and audiences’ tastes and demands evolve, and our members respond to those changes. But we also stand for maximum creative rights for artists.”
“Hollywood should spare us the cant about standing up for creative rights when too many people in Tinsel Town are concentrating on bending low to appease the Chinese censors,” Fund wrote.