Director Judd Apatow told MSNBC that Hollywood’s drive to dominate box offices in China comes at the cost of censorship in cinema.
The King of Staten Island producer spoke to Mavericks with Ari Melber about the content censorship that is required for large studios in Hollywood to produce films that air in international markets. “A lot of these giant corporate entities have business with countries around the world, Saudi Arabia or China, and they’re just not going to criticize them.”
He said the truth has been silenced for the price of big box office numbers, “they’re not going to let their shows criticize them or they’re not going to air documentaries that go deep into truthful areas because they make so much money.”
— Stand For America (@standamericanow) September 16, 2020
He blasted the movie industry for cutting, rewriting, or avoiding topics in film that wouldn’t get passed strict state sanctioned content control. “So while we’re going, ‘Can we say this joke, can we not say that joke,’ on a much bigger level, they have just completely shut down critical content about human rights abuses in China, and I think that’s much scarier.”
First they censor a joke, then an entire topic. The 40-Year-Old Virgin director said that if he pitched a move about a man escaping a Chinese prison camp, every studio would turn the idea down. “Instead of us doing business with China and China becoming more free, what has happened is a place like China has bought our silence with their money.”
Disney recently faced backlash for their live action version of Mulan, which was filmed in Xinjiang, the same province where China faces human rights abuse allegations for detaining more than a million Uighur Muslims. The film’s credits included a special thanks to the “publicity department of CPC Xinjiang Uighur Autonomy Region Committee.”
Star Wars actor John Boyega recently quit his role as a global ambassador for perfume brand Jo Malone, after he was recast in a short film about his life by a Chinese actor in the China market. “Substituting a local brand ambassador for me, without either my consent or prior notice, was wrong. The film celebrated my personal story,” he tweeted.
I have decided to step down as Jo Malone's global ambassador. When I joined the brand as their first male global ambassador last year, I created the short film we used to launch the campaign. It won the Fragrance Foundation Virtual awards 2020 for Best Media Campaign.
— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) September 14, 2020
Apatow worries about the consequences of curtailing American content to appease foreign officials. “As a result of that, we never wake up our country or the world through art or satire that people are being mistreated in our country or other countries. So that’s very dangerous.”