Hollywood Is “Increasingly Normalizing” Self-Censorship for China, Report Finds
By Tatiana Siegel
05 August 2020
On Aug. 5, PEN America published an explosive report that may put Hollywood on the defensive. Titled “Made in Hollywood, Censored by Beijing,” the 94-page study details how the major studios and A-list directors increasingly are making decisions — including cast, plot, dialogue and settings — “based on an effort to avoid antagonizing Chinese officials.”
The nonprofit that champions free expression cites examples of the studios inviting Chinese government regulators onto their film sets to advise “on how to avoid tripping the censors’ wires,” including on Marvel’s 2013 film Iron Man 3. (The studios did not respond to PEN America when asked about claims in its report.)
The report — which chronicles creative choices on such films as Dr. Strange, World War Z and the upcoming Top Gun: Maverick — coincides with criticism from the White House that the studios routinely “kowtow” to the authoritarian government’s censorship demands. In addition, Richard Gere — the most high-profile actor to feel China’s wrath because of his pro-Tibet statements — appeared before a Senate committee June 30.
In his testimony, Gere suggested that economic interests drive studios to avoid social issues that Hollywood once addressed, including Tibet. “Imagine Marty Scorsese’s Kundun, about the life of the Dalai Lama, or my own film Red Corner, which is highly critical of the Chinese legal system,” Gere said. “Imagine them being made today. It wouldn’t happen.”