Cruz bill aims to block Pentagon help to studios that censor films for China
The senator plans to introduce the bill when the Senate is next in session, according to his office.
Film studios often edit their films before they air in China, as they seek to court audiences there by pacifying the country’s strict censorship rules. For instance, a scene about Freddie Mercury’s sexuality disappeared from the version of Bohemian Rhapsody that played for Chinese audiences, as the AP detailed. The cuts came after a government-linked TV association called homosexuality “abnormal” and admonished studios not to depict it, per the wire service. And MGM re-edited its remake of Red Dawn to depict the North Koreans, rather than the Chinese, as occupying America. They made the overhaul because of concerns about angering China’s censors, according to The Los Angeles Times. Chinese government censors also frown upon a host of other topics that appear commonly in American movies, including some depictions of violence, according to Cnet, and –– per CNN –– “excessive smoking” and cleavage.
China isn’t the only country that requires movie censorship; countries like Saudi Arabia (which only started allowing public movie screenings in 2018) and Kuwait have also demanded concessions from Hollywood. But China is uniquely important to the movie industry because of its huge and growing economy.
Hollywood’s relationship with the Pentagon, meanwhile, is old and deep. According to a report in The Independent, DOD has helped Hollywood make more than 800 movies since 1917, including blockbusters like Iron Man and The Terminator. Studios benefit from access to military facilities and equipment, and from consultation with the Pentagon’s experts. But that support is never guaranteed; in 2012, Wired reported that the Pentagon decided against helping Marvel Studios make The Avengers because officials there didn’t understand how S.H.I.E.L.D. fit into the military chain of command. And the Pentagon yanked assistance to the makers of The Hurt Locker because of a scene “the government believed portrayed troops unflatteringly,” according to LAT.
Cruz’s bill would block the Pentagon from helping any studios that recently altered their movies to comply with Chinese demands, and would make studios promise not to censor their films before getting any DOD help.