It’s not just conservatives who are hammering Hollywood’s love affair with Communist China. By reporting on an anti-Trump free speech non-profit group’s study, The Hollywood Reporter acknowledged that the apple of its journalistic eye has been in bed with Chinese government censors. According to THR and PEN America, Hollywood studios “self-censor” their films for the Chinese government in order to get major money at the Chinese box office.
Perhaps there’s some growing worry about this on the left as well. Hey, The Hollywood Reporter could have taken the Washington Post route and called the Chinese Communist Party “a ticket to a better future.”
THR waved around what they called an “explosive report” by PEN America about Chinese censorship’s influence on the American film industry, that the group published on Wednesday, August 5. The outlet admitted that it is damning enough to “put Hollywood on the defensive.”
The non-profit group, dedicated to protecting freedom of expression in American media, detailed “how the major studios and A-list directors increasingly are making decisions — including cast, plot, dialogue and settings — ‘based on an effort to avoid antagonizing Chinese officials.’”
The study cited classic examples of this occurring, whereby a classic Top Gun flight patch on Tom Cruise’s jacket had Taiwanese symbols removed from it in the film’s upcoming sequel to appease the Chinese government, or when Disney Studios remained silent on their Mulan remake actress’ social media support for authoritarian Chinese government in their standoff with Hong Kong freedom fighters.
Oh yes, we wouldn’t want the CCP feeling guilty about any of that, would we?
PEN America cited several reasons why Hollywood studios prostrate so heavily before Chinese censors, with the main one being money, obviously. The Chinese box office is the second biggest in the world, so Hollywood makes billions of dollars with movies like Avengers: Endgame debuting in China. The study wrote “appeasement means profits. American movies earned $2.6 billion in China in 2019, with Disney's Avengers: Endgame pulling in $614 million there alone.”
This “growing phenomenon of self-censorship among the studios” also helps them acquire extra perks such as “better release dates, preferential advertising arrangements and a more friendly relationship with Chinese investors and regulators.” It’s starting to seem like our first place box office is playing second fiddle to the real market dominator.
PEN America deputy director of free expression policy and research, James Tager, the report's author, stated, “Our biggest concern is that Hollywood is increasingly normalizing preemptive self-censorship in anticipation of what the Beijing censor is looking for.” At some point, Hollywood’s values might mirror those of the world’s largest Communist regime. It’s hard for lefties to commend Disney for being “woke,” when a lesbian scene from the latest Star Wars movie was shot in such a way that allowed it to be pulled for Chinese screenings, for example.
THR also clarified that it just so happens to be coincidental that PEN America is taking a hard stance on Chinese propaganda in Hollywood like the Trump administration, saying that PEN America is “no friend of the Trump administration.” The outlet mentioned a 2018 lawsuit from the non-profit against “President Trump in federal court in an effort to prevent him from using the machinery of the government to retaliate or threaten reprisals against journalists and media outlets for coverage he dislikes.”
Perhaps more and more anti-Trump groups are waking up to the dangers China poses throughout the world. THR mentioned USC Professor Stan Rosen’s warning to Hollywood that this “perfect storm” of censorship criticism will continue to get louder. “It's going to get harder and harder for Hollywood to not respond,” he told the outlet.