It’s no secret that Hollywood has long coveted the Chinese market and has even re-edited films to appeal to Chinese audiences.
When iron man 3 Released 10 years ago, the filmmakers created a version of the film especially for China, in which Tony Stark travels to the country for heart surgery and the source of his power is revealed to be Gu Li Duo, an inner Mongolian milk drink.
More recently, the flags of Taiwan and Japan were notably absent from Tom Cruise’s jacket when the first trailer for it Top gun: Maverick was released in 2019. At the time, Chinese technology company Tencent Holdings helped finance the film. The Taiwanese and Japanese flags mysteriously reappeared after Tencent pulled out of production.
Now the Department of Defense has a new rule prohibiting the US military from supporting film and television productions edited to appease Chinese censorship.
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The change was first reported by Politico and was recently included in an existing Defense Department instruction that now prohibits the Department from supporting film, television and live productions: “When there is demonstrable evidence that the production has complied or likely to comply with a demand by the government of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese Communist Party or any entity led by the People’s Republic of China or the Chinese Communist Party to materially censor the contents of the project to protect the national interests of the People’s Republic China.”
The language added to the instruction was required by the Fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, said Glen Roberts, chief of entertainment media for the Department of Defense. Roberts’ office works with films, television shows, documentaries and live events to educate the American public about the roles and missions of the Department of Defense.
“The NDAA is, of course, federal law, and the department obviously complies with all federal laws,” Roberts told Task & Purpose. “This amendment to the Department of Defense ensures compliance with Section 1257 of the NDAA, which is a federal law.”
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) added the language to the NDAA bill that prohibits the Department of Defense from assisting films and other productions censored for Chinese audiences.
Cruz has long battled Chinese influence on American films and other forms of media. In a December 2020 floor speech, he denounced Hollywood for cutting scenes about singer Freddie Mercury’s sexuality from the version of Bohemian Rhapsody released in China, and for changing a character in Dr Strange from Tibetan to Celtic so as not to offend the Chinese authorities.
“The Chinese Communist Party spends billions of dollars trying to control what Americans hear, see and ultimately think — way beyond their efforts to censor movie content for a Chinese audience only,” Cruz said in a statement to Task & Purpose on Friday. . “My concerns about self-censorship in Hollywood started long before that Top gunincluding everything from Hollywood avoiding Richard Gere because of his stance on Tibet to Marvel changing cartoon characters, all to appease the Chinese Communist Party, and much of it done in anticipation of future CCP objections.
“In fact, China set up a system that exploited access to Chinese markets so that Hollywood preemptively self-censored scripts, footage and even casting,” Cruz continued. “Unfortunately, that system has worked for far too long, but I’m cautiously optimistic that Hollywood will learn that the cost of kowtowing to the CCP isn’t worth it.”
It’s pretty obvious why American movie studios want a bigger share of the Chinese movie market, which brought in $4.33 billion in box office revenue last year. That number is expected to grow to $8.11 billion by 2028.
To put that in perspective, the North American movie market reported $7.5 billion in box office revenue in 2022.
But retired Marine Captain Dale Dye, who has worked as a military consultant on films including Saving Private Ryan and the HBO series Band of brothers And The Pacific ocean said he has not worked on military-themed productions that had to comply with Chinese censorship.
Dye said he often works on military-themed productions that can’t get help from the Defense Department, and he hasn’t seen any writers or producers decide to cut scenes for a Chinese audience. Nor does he recall working on productions financed by Chinese companies.
“I really don’t think it has much effect,” Dye told Task & Purpose on Friday. “I think it’s smoke and mirrors.”
Actor Matthew Modine, who plays Pvt. joker in it Full metal jacket, said he has long supported US forces; however, he has not dug into the recent change regarding the Department of Defense’s policy on supporting film and television productions,
Modine did offer some thoughts on the broader issue of censorship, which is the underlying reason why the Defense Department is no longer providing assistance to movies and television shows that bow to Chinese pressure.
“An important question to ask is: When is censorship ever good?” Modine said in a statement. “Why is the First Amendment so important to American democracy? Challenging materials, books, music, movies, theater, all help us develop critical thinking skills. Without a selection of different ideas and competing strategies, we lose the chance to judge for ourselves ideas that we initially opposed, to question what we were taught to believe. If we didn’t, the Earth could still be considered flat. It is through critical thinking that society and culture continue to evolve. There is ample evidence that censorship hinders our ability to judge opinions based on established facts. Awkward conversations often lead to emotional and intellectual growth.”
UPDATE: 07/07/2023; this story has been updated with a statement from Matthew Modine.
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