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Hollywood Drops Its Values to Appease China

Editors at National Review Online lament the latest offense from the motion-picture industry. It involves the communist Chinese government.

Action-movie star John Cena’s fulsome and abject apology for having offended China by referring in passing to Taiwan as a “country” while promoting his new movie F9 may have set a new low for cringing cravenness in Hollywood. As the celebrated wit David Burge said on Twitter, “I can’t blame John Cena, he can’t risk his career by being hauled up before the Beijing House Un-Chinese Activity Committee.”

These days Hollywood is so obsessed with growth in the Chinese marketplace that studios have routinely granted Chinese interests 75 percent of every box-office dollar its films generate there, edited storylines to please Chinese censors (bye-bye, Tibetan character in Doctor Strange), and, in Disney’s case, even badgered a U.S. magazine to scrub an eight-year-old reference made by its Oscar-winning Nomadland director Chloé Zhao to the lies and repression back in her native country. Movies such as 2012 and The Martian reek with flattery for the ingenuity and humanitarianism of red China. …

… The movie business fancies itself a fierce opponent of racism, sexism, and excessive carbon emissions, even as it habitually prostrates itself before a regime that subjugates Muslims, perpetuates female infanticide on a breathtaking scale, and burns so much coal that its carbon emissions are more than double those of the U.S. Every Academy Awards ceremony bristles with disgust for the supposed pervasiveness of injustice in America, and at any given moment, Hollywood is threatening to boycott this or that state over some allegedly intolerable legislative act. Yet it’s hard to picture just what level of obsequiousness Hollywood might not consider in exchange for the right to continue to claim one out of every four dollars its movies generate in China. Last year, in the credits of the remake of Mulan, Disney thanked the “security agency” that persecutes Uyghurs in Xinjiang province.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...