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Quentin Tarantino Refused to Edit his Movie for China, Stands by Free Speech

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Quentin Tarantino was asked by the Chinese to cut his film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” differently because they did not like his portrayal of Bruce Lee. Quentin summarily refused and came out to make a speech about it to let all of Hollywood know exactly how he felt.

In the movie, actor Mike Moh hilariously portrays kung-fu screen legend Bruce Lee as an arrogant braggart who talks a bigger game than the one he plays. Despite the fact that most Bruce Lee biographers agree that Lee did indeed have a haughty side to go along with his sweet side, Tarantino got slapped with accusations of racism for supposedly portraying the film’s lone minority character so disparagingly. Tarantino maintained, however, that Lee’s own wife even admitted he had a bit of an arrogant side.
“The way he was talking, I didn’t just make a lot of that up,” Tarantino said, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. “I heard him say things like that, to that effect. If people are saying, ‘Well he never said he could beat up Muhammad Ali,’ well yeah, he did. Not only did he say that, but his wife, Linda Lee, said that in her first biography I ever read … She absolutely said it.”

-dailywire

only 34 major American films are allowed into China each year using a quota system. Since China is the world’s largest film market, getting into it is a very competitive business. Movies that the censors don’t like aren’t going to get in, giving them tremendous power over what money-chasing Hollywood executives are going to make.

-bigthink.com

We’ve seen several movies actually change their scripts and endings in hopes to be chosen to go to China for the “big money.” Red Dawn was one, spending over 1.5 million dollars, MGM digitally erased Chinese invaders and replaced them with North Korean ones.

Pixels movie creators wanted to have aliens blow a hole through the Great Wall of China, but Sony executives didn’t like that much, and they agreed to blow up the Taj Mahal instead.

-leaked sony emails

Since 2012, Chinese entities have made a significant push into the U.S. film production and distribution industry.  Chinese involvement in this area creates two primary concerns.  The first of these is that, by gaining control of distribution, China can effectively diminish the impact of films that it deems to be objectionable to Beijing’s interests.  China may take offense at any number of themes – ranging from portrayals of the country as an aggressor to glorification of protest and civil disobedience – that have filled U.S. movie screens.  A second, complementary, concern is that China will develop the resources to produce content with thematic elements supportive of a “China solution”.  Sympathetic, non-Chinese-produced, portrayals have already entered American theaters (one need look no further than the recent Disney nature flick, “Born in China”) – it is entirely plausible that Chinese producers will be able to capitalize on these sentiments with their own content. 


The Chinese company Dalian Wanda has been a significant actor in acquisition of U.S. movie-making and distribution assets by China.  The company is an example of how a Chinese firm – or any other firm under a totalitarian government – can become a proxy for that government’s objectives.  Its founder and chairman, Wang Jianlin, served in the PLA – an entity which understands the significance of information operations – for nearly two decades and has claimed to remain close with the Chinese government.[v]


Dalian Wanda first acquired infrastructure for film distribution.  In 2012, it purchased the AMC theater chain.  It followed this, in 2016, with the purchase, through AMC, of Carmike Cinemas.[vi]  In combination these two chains represent the largest theater group in the United States.  Dalian Wanda has indicated that it intends to use its theater ownership to China’s advantage, by edging out other content.  Wang has stated that, “more Chinese films should be in [AMC’s] theaters where possible”.[vii] 

Furthermore, theater ownership may also result in censorship of material that runs counter to China’s preferred narrative.  As Carolyn Bartholomew, a member of the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission noted, in 2013, “This investment in the entertainment industry, particularly if you look at movies and other sort of cultural production, it’s perhaps not quite as benign as we think that it might be. I’m waiting to see if there any forthcoming movies about Tibet and whether the AMC theatres will be allowed to show them.”[viii]


In an apparent effort to promote the production of the Chinese films that Wang desires, Dalian Wanda as well as other Chinese companies have started acquiring ownership stakes in U.S. movie studios.  In 2016, Dalian Wanda purchased Legendary Entertainment – a major Hollywood studio responsible for multiple blockbusters prior to being acquired by the Chinese.[ix]  (Dalian Wanda also made a failed bid to acquire Dick Clark Productions.[x])  However, Dalian Wanda is not the only Chinese firm accumulating influence in the film industry.  Paramount Pictures – after a failed deal to sell a 49 percent share to Dalian Wanda – struck a deal with the Chinese film companies Shanghai Film Group and Huahua Media.[xi]


Ownership of distribution and production capabilities gives China increased control of what the American public sees.  It has already used a heavy-handed approach to this effect in China.  In early 2010, the Chinese state-owned China Film Group Corporation released Confucius, starring Chow Yun-Fat as you-know-who.  Officials ordered that the competing U.S. film, Avatar, be pulled from various theaters, to free up screens for what turned out to be – based on audience reaction – a not-terribly-satisfying movie.[xii]  While it cannot use government coercion to evict films in the United States, Chinese control over theaters effectively creates a fiefdom on American soil.


In addition to pro-China content, China has already demonstrated that it is willing to use its media resources to develop anti-American material.  For instance, Chinese Communist Party-controlled companies made films glorifying the September 11 attacks.[xiii]  More recently, China released a film titled “Dangerous Love” which was not about VD but, rather, was a warning to young Chinese women about the dangers of falling for foreign students and professors.[xiv]  Interestingly, part of Wang’s motivation for purchasing Hollywood companies is to export the companies’ technology and capability to China.[xv]  Acquisitions could, therefore, lead not simply to heightened Chinese influence but also to the degradation of U.S. interests through the production and dissemination of hostile propaganda.

Another nexus to entertainment that China may exploit in furtherance of activities, including information warfare, is the field of U.S. video game companies. Chinese companies acquired Riot Games, Epic Games, and Cryptic Studios. All three of these companies have U.S.-based R&D operations.[xvi] The underlying technologies associated with gaming have long been identified by the military as potential assets. 

-smallwarsjournal.com

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