The film industry has been a staple in American society since the invention of motion pictures in the late 1800s.
Throughout the last century, audiences have been inundated with a plethora of diverse stories that have occupied the silver screen. Now Hollywood, the undisputed leader in film production, creates and distributes films worldwide.
While the film industry’s growth can be seen as the proliferation of the industry’s population, a disturbing trend in Hollywood is slowly becoming the norm for many U.S. films. The production companies and studios are making different versions of their movies to cater the medium to fit multi-national acceptance — mostly to adhere to other government’s strict censors.
The dilemma that Hollywood and American producers face is that the Chinese film market is the second largest in the world, surpassing Japan in recent years.
Industry executives believe that the Chinese market is expected to exceed American box office earnings within the next decade. But the Chinese government edits and censors all media content — including Internet, radio and television — before it is aired in China. Unlike the Motion Picture Association of America, which rates movies for parental recommendations, Chinese censors simply do not allow anything that the government does not like to be seen within the country.
For any film studio that is trying to make a profit out of its product, the Chinese market is definitely an important aspect to keep in mind. However, studios and directors should not pander to the Chinese audience at the hands of an oppressive and censorial government in order to gain increased box office sales. Doing this only legitimizes China’s oppressive stronghold on the free flowing ideas and creativity of its people.
In the last James Bond film, “Skyfall,” Chinese censors cut a scene in which 007 kills a Chinese security guard in Macau. The film’s subtitles were tweaked to hide the original plot’s references that the film’s villain was tortured at the hands of the Chinese government. More than 40 minutes of the film “Cloud Atlas” was cut by Chinese censors that depicted both gay and straight love scenes that the China’s government figured would offend its audience.
Just imagine a world where films like “All the Presidents Men,” “Wag the Dog” or even “Casablanca” were edited by censors or never existed because they are about how bad governments can be.
It is a shame that Americans are giving up their freedom of expression to cater to oppressive governments because there is a bigger paycheck in it for them.
Robert Scime is a senior majoring in mass communications.