When Will the Media and Hollywood Stop Cowering Before Communist China?

July 18th, 2020 4:00 PM

Back there in the stone age of March, 2020, I focused in this space on the media and China. The headline: "The Media’s Communist China Problem." 

In which was discussed the uncanny willingness of American liberal media ( like CNN and The New York Times) to stand up for, if not bed down with, the government of China - aka the Chinese Communist Party.

This week, Attorney General William Barr traveled to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in the late President’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan to discuss more of this issue - this time focusing on the media that is Hollywood and the tech giants of Silicon Valley.

Among other things, the Attorney General said this:

“It is a privilege to be here to speak about what may prove to be the most important issue for our nation and the world in the twenty-first century — that is, the United States’ response to the global ambitions of the Chinese Communist Party.  The CCP rules with an iron fist over one of the great ancient civilizations of the world.  It seeks to leverage the immense power, productivity, and ingenuity of the Chinese people to overthrow the rules-based international system and to make the world safe for dictatorship.  How the United States responds to this challenge will have historic implications and will determine whether the United States and its liberal democratic allies will continue to shape their own destiny or whether the CCP and its autocratic tributaries will control the future. 

Several weeks ago, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien spoke about the CCP’s ideology and global ambitions.  He declared, and I agree, that “[t]he days of American passivity and naivety regarding the People’s Republic of China are over.”[1]  Last week, FBI Director Chris Wray described how the CCP pursues its ambitions through nefarious and even illegal conduct, including industrial espionage, theft, extortion, cyberattacks, and malign influence activities.[2] All too often, for the sake of short-term profits, American companies have succumbed to that influence—even at the expense of freedom and openness in the United States.  Sadly, examples of American business bowing to Beijing are legion. 

Take Hollywood.  Hollywood actors, producers, and directors pride themselves on celebrating freedom and the human spirit.  And every year at the Academy Awards, Americans are lectured about how this country falls short of Hollywood’s ideals of social justice.  But Hollywood now regularly censors its own movies to appease the Chinese Communist Party, the world’s most powerful violator of human rights.  This censorship infects not only versions of movies that are released in China, but also many that are shown in American theaters to American audiences.” 

Barr went on at length and in detail to cite specific films that bowed to pressure from the Chinese government to alter scripts and movie scenes to suit the demands of - and make sure not to offend - the Chinese Communist Party.

A scene in the hit movie World War Z that “depicts a zombie apocalypse caused by a virus”? Out it went because it had the characters speculating whether the virus came from China.

In the Marvel Studios superhero film Dr. Strange, Barr said that: 

“….filmmakers changed the nationality of a major character known as the “Ancient One,” a Tibetan monk in the comic books, from Tibetan to Celtic.  When challenged about this, a screenwriter explained that “if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people.”  Or, he continued, the Chinese government might say “[w]e’re not going to show your movie because you decided to get political.” 

But it isn’t just the world of Hollywood media that is bending the knee and bowing to the Communist dictators. Barr also singled out the tech moguls of Silicon Valley, whose companies are the backbone of today’s social media. Said the Attorney General: 

“Over the years, corporations such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Apple have shown themselves all too willing to collaborate with the CCP.  For example, Apple recently removed the news app Quartz from its app store in China, after the Chinese government complained about coverage of the Hong Kong democracy protests.  Apple also removed apps for virtual private networks, which had allowed users to circumvent the Great Firewall, and eliminated pro-democracy songs from its Chinese music store.  Meanwhile, the company announced that it would be transferring some of its iCloud data to servers in China, despite concerns that the move would give the CCP easier access to e-mails, text messages, and other user information stored in the cloud. 

The CCP has long used public threats of retaliation and barred market access to exert influence.  More recently, however, the CCP has also stepped up behind-the-scenes efforts to cultivate and coerce American business executives to further its political objectives — efforts that are all the more pernicious because they are largely hidden from public view.”

Something that Barr did not mention here is the NBA and its China ties, the problem more or less the same as that with Hollywood and Silicon Valley media - money.

Make no mistake. The activities, the scope and unbridled power of the Chinese Communist Party is a serious problem in American media, whether we are talking the favorable PR doled out by The New York Times and CNN, or letting the CCP dictate what can and cannot be allowed in the writing and filming of movies and social media software.

Much attention has been paid - correctly - to the coronavirus that came from China and its devastating effect on Americans. But there is another virus brewing out there also involving China. This is a media virus, with an all too willing Hollywood and Silicon Valley willing to bow to the CCP for profit.

Memo to Hollywood and Silicon Valley? Perhaps you should ponder the wisdom of President John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address in 1961. JFK was speaking to those who, in the day, sought to appease the Communist Soviet Union. Said the the President: 

“Those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside”