Samuel Taishoff ’22
As I have already reported in a previous article, the Chinese government is terrible. The communist ‘democracy’ continually oppresses its people by censoring the truth and submitting them to subpar living conditions. Recently, their oppression has begun to stretch outside of the confines of their own people. As the police and government attempt to quell the protests in Hong Kong, there is another fight happening on the battlefield of American media.
Hollywood and the entertainment industry of America are some of the most influential cultural hubs in the entirety of the world. There are few forces in 2019 as powerful as Disney and Fox. Yet, these companies and the entire entertainment industry are being forced to change and adapt their products to suit the Chinese censorship laws. As the population of China grows, they have a greater control of the market due to simple economics. This fact, however, gives the Chinese government a greater control of American media.
As a result, we are seeing a change in the types of films being put out. To be accepted in Chinese theaters, there are certain criteria that movies must meet. The most obvious example of Chinese censorship in Hollywood would be the writing out of any Tibetan characters. Marvel and Disney’s Doctor Strange (2016) initially had a Tibetan monk taken straight from the comics. Upon review of the script, the Chinese government forced the writers to change it to a monk of a different ethnicity, in this case, Celtic.
It isn’t just little changes like this that are affecting Hollywood and the films being produced. In recent years, we have seen China become the “good guys” in numerous films, and they are rarely, almost never, portrayed in a negative light. Movies like 2012, Gravity, and The Martian all depict Americans being saved by the Chinese. Even the 2012 remake of Red Dawn, a classic film in which communist soldiers invade a US town, was changed so that the North Koreans were the bad guys instead of the Chinese.
Luckily for America, in a time when the strict Chinese government enforces their censorship laws against us, there are a few directors and creators who continue to stand up for freedom and don’t care about the dirty money that comes with selling out to China. Quentin Tarantino, best known for his extremely graphic and bloody films, refuses to compromise his artistic integrity and won’t edit his movies so they can be played in China. As a result, his movies are making far less than movies put out by companies who could care less about artistic integrity.
It isn’t just the entertainment industry being affected by the Chinese government. Most recently, we have seen the NBA, Blizzard, and even Apple submit to China’s oppression. The NBA spoke out against Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, after he tweeted something that was pro-Hong Kong. Blizzard, a video game developer and publisher, banned and stripped professional Hearthstone player, Blitzchung, of his winnings for supporting the Hong Kong protesters in an interview. In addition, they banned the interviewers from ever working another Blizzard event. Apple has censored the Taiwanese flag and provided cloud data and encryption keys to China. Numerous other companies have fired staff for supporting Hong Kong protesters, calling Taiwan or Tibet a country, or even discussing the Tiananmen Massacre.
Luckily, more and more American groups and companies are starting to stand up to China. Redbull has shown support for Hong Kong in a recent video, and Ubisoft refuses to censor the violence in their games to be China-compliant.
One of the most vocal groups on the matter are the geniuses behind South Park. In their 23rd season, they have been constantly attacking the idea of censorship and the Chinese government. They even went so far in one episode to have two characters say, “fuck the Chinese government.”
I wish the best of luck to those in Hong Kong, Tibet, and Taiwan as they struggle and fight for freedom from the oppressive communist rule. I also pray that the people of America will one day be ready to stand up and say that we don’t want our entertainment and our country controlled by the Chinese government.