Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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April 25, 2013

Hollywood yielding to China's growing film clout

(Continued)

And that doesn't take into account ostensible instances of self-censoring, like last year's remake of the 1984 film "Red Dawn," where producers changed the nationality of bloodthirsty soldiers invading the United States from Chinese to North Korean, apparently to cater to their perception of Chinese political sensitivities.

The American film industry is extremely reluctant to discuss the China concessions Hollywood is making, and the industry's main lobbying group, the Motion Picture Association of America, tries to portray the practice in the best possible light.

"The adjustment of some of our films for different world markets is a commercial reality, and we recognize China's right to determine what content enters their country," said MPAA spokesman Howard Gantman in an email. "Overall, our members make films for global audiences and audience's tastes and demands evolve and our members respond to those changes. But we also stand for maximum creative rights for artists."

Taiwanese film critic Tsai Kuo-rong said that artists themselves could help rein in Chinese censorship, by insisting that content not be altered to conform to Chinese political or aesthetic demands.

"You cannot expect regulators to relax restrictions on their own," he said. "But I would hope that artists might be bold enough to press the case for artistic integrity."

Frank Couvares, a professor of history and American Studies at Massachusetts' Amherst College, said that rather than something new, Hollywood's readiness to cater to Chinese demands on content reflects business practices the American film industry has had in place for more than seven decades.

"If back in the 1930s or '40s the French objected to portraying the Foreign Legion as being overly harsh on Africans, or the British were unhappy that they were being shown as too colonialistic, then Hollywood would make the edits it needed to market its product," he said.

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