90 Miles From Tyranny : Why Hollywood’s Cozy Relationship With China Could Face An Ugly Reckoning In The 2020s

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Why Hollywood’s Cozy Relationship With China Could Face An Ugly Reckoning In The 2020s

From the Golden Globes to 'Mulan,' the foreshocks of a fight over Hollywood's cozy relationship with China are trembling beneath our feet.

At some point after viewers watched Ricky Gervais needle begowned Golden Globe revelers over their affiliations with China, those watching at home would have seen the trailer for “Mulan” play during a commercial break. (Disney was one of three companies Gervais named in his monologue.) It was fitting, in Hollywood’s first big party of the 2020s, to see shadows of a conflict that roiled the waning days of its last decade.

The very next morning, director Judd Apatow was quoted in an exhaustive New Yorker article probing “The Future of America’s Contest with China.” It’s a drama in which Hollywood plays a supporting role.

“You would not see a major film company or studio make a movie that has story lines which are critical of countries with major markets or investors. The question becomes: what’s the result of all of this?” said Apatow. “The result is, there are a million or more Muslims in reeducation camps in China, and you don’t really hear much about it.” Let us not forget the country’s treatment of its Christian citizens either.

Will this be a key plot line in the industry’s next decade? With tensions mounting between the United States and China, some in Washington are reevaluating the wisdom of our vast cultural and financial entanglements with the country—and from both sides of the aisle. Hollywood, as Gervais demonstrated, is ripe for a grilling.
The Era of ‘Preemptive Censorship’

“What you don’t hear about,” Apatow continued in The New Yorker, “is all of the ideas that get killed at the earliest pitch stage, at all of the studios and networks, because people don’t even want to consider dealing with it.”

Just before Christmas, I asked Chris Fenton, a Hollywood executive who collaborated with Apatow as a producer on “Blockers,” about exactly that. Fenton, formerly of DMG Entertainment, has worked extensively on distributing major American films in China. Is Hollywood practicing a form of “preemptive censorship?” I wondered. “One hundred percent,” replied Fenton, calling the practice “commonplace.”

“The studios are smart about the global market, wanting their films to resonate everywhere. When it comes to China—the soon-to-be largest market in the world—a studio fully vets a film before submitting it to censors. Anything blatantly offensive is...

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1 comment:

  1. Let me get this straight: We're supposed to be concerned that heathen communists are putting error supporting mooslems in camps? Pass me a beer.


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