The lure of the massive Chinese market has led Hollywood to readily self-censor its films to please Beijing, according to a new report by Pen America, an anti-censorship group.
Screenwriters, producers and directors in the huge US film industry are changing scripts, deleting scenes and altering other content, afraid of offending Chinese censors who control the gateway to the country’s 1.4 billion consumers, according to the report released Wednesday.
The actions include everything from deleting the Taiwanese flag from Tom Cruise’s bomber jacket in the upcoming Top Gun: Maverick, to removing China as the source of a zombie virus in 2013’s World War Z.
But it also means completely avoiding sensitive issues including Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong politics, Xinjiang and the portrayal of LGBTQ characters, the report said.
Faced with blacklisting and other punitive measures, Hollywood producers are even censoring films not targeting the Chinese market, in order to not impact others planned for Chinese theaters, Pen America says.
“Steadily, a new set of mores has taken hold in Hollywood, one in which appeasing Chinese government investors and gatekeepers has simply become a way of doing business,” the report said.
Pen is a global organization which speaks out for the protection of freedom of expression for writers and artists worldwide. It says Beijing enforces one of the world’s most restrictive censorship systems, and numerous members of the group’s China arm have been jailed, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), who died in 2017 while serving an 11 year prison sentence.
Censorship is now centralized under the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department, which decides whether a foreign film gets access to what is soon to be the world’s largest movie market.
Only a handful of foreign films are released in China each year.
The market’s importance is clear. Hollywood films like Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far from Home< made more money in China than in the US.
“The Chinese Communist Party, in fact, holds major sway over whether a Hollywood movie will be profitable or not — and studio executives know it,” the report said.
That explained why former Disney chief executive Michael Eisner apologized to Beijing after it banned the 1997 film Kundun about the Tibetan Dalai Lama, the report said.
And Richard Gere — star of the 1997 thriller Red Corner, which depicted a corrupt Chinese justice system, and a vocal advocate for human rights in Tibet — has said Hollywood producers avoid him so as to not provoke Beijing.
Increasingly, the report said, Hollywood people “voluntarily internalize these strictures, even without being asked.”
Some even invite Chinese censors onto film sets.
One Hollywood producer told Pen: “If you come up with a project that is actively critical,” the fear is that “you or your company will actively be blacklisted, and they will interfere with your current or future project.”
Pen warned that acquiescence to Chinese censorship could become “a new normal” in countries proud of their free speech protections.
“Hollywood’s approach to acceding to Chinese dictates is setting a standard for the rest of the world,” it warned.
Taimali Township (太麻里) is about 15km south of Jhihben Township (知本) in Taitung County, a glorious ride along the electric blue Pacific coastline. Having spent several days scouting out the upper reaches of the Jhihben River gorge for possible camera trap locations for Formosan clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa), a friend and I decided to explore the next river drainage to the south. The Taimali River gorge is yet another remote and relatively unknown wilderness area of Taitung County that has likely never been properly surveyed for wildlife, and this is certainly the second place that I plan to search for
Taiwan is a crowded country. The average home is small. Farmers tend fields which, by North American standards, are tiny. At the same time, the pace of life is fast. Rushing from A to B, it’s easy to miss some of Taiwan’s smaller attractions. None of the three manmade curiosities described in this article justifies going hours out of your way, but if you’re passing nearby, you won’t regret stopping to take a look at any of them. SHALU’S NOSTALGIC PAINTINGS Shalu’s Nostalgic Paintings (沙鹿懷舊彩繪), also known as Meiren Borough Painted Village (美仁里彩繪村), is a set of colorful artworks depicting Taiwan
In the introduction to his new manual on how to live a meaningful life, Jordan Peterson sets the tone by recounting the hellish sequence of health crises that afflicted his family during 2019 and last year. They included his wife’s diagnosis with a rare and usually lethal form of kidney cancer, and his own downward spiral from severe anxiety and dangerously low blood pressure into benzodiazepine dependency and an acute withdrawal response, near total insomnia, pneumonia in both lungs, and “overwhelming thoughts of self-destruction,” culminating in his waking from a medically induced coma in a Russian intensive care unit with
March 8 to March 14 Forty-five years after her husband was executed in front of the Chiayi Railway Station, 93-year-old Chang Chieh (張捷) was still terrified to discuss what happened. She wasn’t the only one; for decades few dared to speak of the 228 Incident of 1947, an anti-government uprising that was violently suppressed. As wife of the famous painter Chen Cheng-po (陳澄波), Chang is one of the better known widows of the 228 Incident, and not just because of her husband’s name. She calmly retrieved Chen’s body, had someone snap a photo of the corpse and secretly