Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that he is introducing a bill to restrict federal government assistance for studios that alter their movies to get past China’s censors and gain entry into the country’s lucrative market.
The legislation would prohibit the U.S. government from providing technical or other types of support across agencies on movie projects if a studio anticipates a request or get one by the Chinese government to make edits on a movie. Cruz’s legislation is part of a broader series of bills he’s putting forward as he has put a spotlight on Chinese propaganda.
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On the floor of the Senate on Thursday, Cruz said that the Chinese government had forced changes to titles like Doctor Strange, Skyfall and the Red Dawn remake, removing references to topics like Tibet, Taiwan and human rights. In Bohemian Rhapsody, he noted, they “edited out references to the fact that Freddie Mercury was gay.”
He noted that in the Top Gun sequel, the Taiwanese and Japanese flags on Maverick’s jacket were removed to “appease the the Chinese Communist Party.” “What message does it send that Maverick, an American icon, is afraid of the Chinese communists? That is ridiculous.” The disappearance of the symbols were noted by social media users when the trailer for the movie was released last year. Tencent Pictures, a subsidiary of the Chinese tech company, is a partner on the movie with Paramount.
Cruz originally announced his legislation last month, but it applied only to support from the Department of Defense.
The Motion Picture Association had no comment.
Studios for years have edited movies to gain entry into international markets, not just China but other countries, and those edits occasionally have created substantial attention. But Cruz has seized on China’s practices and he and other Republicans have also put the spotlight on the country’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Cruz called his legislation a “wake up call” to Hollywood. He’s seized on the attention generated by the industry before. In 2018, as he was running for reelection, he joined in protests on the right of the movie First Man, about Neil Armstrong’s landing on the moon, because it didn’t feature him planting the American flag on its surface. He wrote on Twitter that the movie “erases” the flag, although it was visible in one scene.
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