Hollywood makes a lot of movies, and Americans watch a lot of films. The second-largest market for American films is, you guessed it, China. But to make those extra millions of dollars, the studios will sometimes tweak their movies a bit for China's--how shall we say?--more delicate viewers among The Party.
The all-knowing communist leadership doesn't like certain themes or imagery in movies screened there. To show you just how ridiculous and fickle the Reds can be, mainland China has banned Winnie the Pooh.
The joke is that we're not kidding. Beijing banned Christopher Robin, the movie, from the country because the people of China, privately, mock the current pudgy President Xi Jinping as a real-life Winnie the Pooh. Sometimes they post memes of him on social media next to an image of Pooh Bear. They don't do so publicly, of course, not having a First Amendment or even a democracy in their country. To mock the leader of The Party, thus the leader of everything else in Red China, is to put your life, or at least your liberty, in jeopardy.
While some directors and studios are quick to appease Beijing's censors for a shot at a little extra green, at least one isn't. You may be familiar with Quentin Tarantino, who directed hits like Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. He had another award-nominated movie out last year called Once Upon A Time . . . in Hollywood.
The Middle Kingdom took particular exception to a scene in which Brad Pitt's character (who plays a stunt actor) fights Bruce Lee.
In China, Bruce Lee is a big hero. To have him beaten by Brad Pitt's character is an insult The Party simply couldn't forgive, even though the film is a piece of fiction that rewrites the history of the Manson murders. The Middle Kingdom ordered the scene removed, and Mr. Tarantino, who made an entire movie about the murder of Hitler in a French movie theater, told them to pound sand.
What's even more impressive: Reports say Sony (the company distributing the film) backed their American director over Beijing, even though it knew the decision would cost them money from the world's second-largest market. That was a bold play, and fortunately, it paid off. Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood is profitable and is nominated for multiple Oscars.
In a media landscape that's constantly tweaking stories and policies to appease Red China, it's refreshing to see an American creator stick to his guns. Figuratively speaking, of course.
Editorial on 01/19/2020
Print Headline: Oh, bother