As the NBA and a majority of the entertainment industry cater to China’s censorship demands in order to make a quick buck, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino is now refusing to recut his hit film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” to appease the tyrannical regime.
“Quentin Tarantino will not recut “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” to placate Chinese censors,” reports Variety. “The decision likely means that the Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt buddy dramedy and ode to late sixties Tinseltown won’t be making an appearance in China — at least in non-pirated form.”
Though “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is being distributed by Sony Pictures, Tarantino has final cut, meaning no alterations can be made to the movie without his approval. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) praised Tarantino for standing up for artistic freedom:
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) October 19, 2019
The stall over his film’s release in China reportedly happened because Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, filed a complaint with China’s National Film Administration about the film’s negative depiction of her father.
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.”
Despite not being released in China, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” has already grossed $366.8 million worldwide on a $90 million budget. Regardless of whether or not the film will grace Chinese audiences, the controversy represents yet another example in a string of ongoing examples of China’s grip on Hollywood, which has become so insidious that American movie studios have been censoring creative content to make a few bucks off the backs of a totalitarian government. In fact, The New York Times cited several instances in a detailed article on how movies have changed whole storylines and characters in order to appease China’s state media:
Hollywood’s embrace of China has not come without strings attached.
So when the creators of “Pixels” wanted to show aliens blasting a hole in the Great Wall of China, Sony executives worried that the scene might prevent the 2015 movie’s release in China, leaked studio emails show. They blew up the Taj Mahal instead.
But in the 2016 movie “Doctor Strange,” the Ancient One is Celtic, played by the white actress Tilda Swinton. Moviemakers decided to change the character’s ethnicity early in the process, reportedly to avoid offending the Chinese government.
As recently as two decades ago, major Hollywood movies were sharply critical of China. “Seven Years in Tibet,” which depicts Chinese soldiers brutalizing Tibetans, was one of the top 100 grossing movies of 1997. Also that year, Disney released Martin Scorsese’s “Kundun” — a sympathetic portrayal of the Dalai Lama’s early life in Mao-era China and his subsequent exile in India — despite objections from the Chinese authorities.
Beyond that, movie studios have gone to great lengths to appeal to Chinese audiences by presenting the country as a technologically advanced superpower, as in the cases of “The Martian,” “2012,” “Gravity,” and “Looper.”
Most recently, social media went abuzz with Chinese censorship speculation when the “Top Gun: Maverick” trailer revealed that the Taiwanese and Japanese flags had been removed from Tom Cruise’s iconic jacket, presumably to appease Chinese sensibilities.