Film studios that censor their films because China finds some content objectionable will not receive any help from the military to make their movies if a bill sponsored by Ted Cruz becomes law.
Studios must kowtow to censors in China if they want their films shown to a potential audience of a billion people. The bill, called, “The Stopping Censorship, Restoring Integrity, Protecting Talkies Act” (SCRIPT Act), would block any cooperation between the Department of Defense and studios that edit or alter their content so they can be shown by the Communists.
The film companies argue that they don’t want to censor their movies but have no choice if they want to make money. Film distribution is a global enterprise and to deny a billion people the opportunity to view them is unfair.
“For too long, Hollywood has been complicit in China’s censorship and propaganda in the name of bigger profits,” the Texas Republican said in a statement. “The SCRIPT Act will serve as a wake-up call by forcing Hollywood studios to choose between the assistance they need from the American government and the dollars they want from China.”
The senator plans to introduce the bill when the Senate is next in session, according to his office.
It’s not just cutting sexy scenes or bad language from the film.
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.
Other nations, especially some Islamic nations, also demand censorship. But the audiences in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait are tiny compared to China.
Cruz’s bill would put a serious crimp in some studio’s ability to realistically portray action scenes.
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.
Standing up against censorship is always the side of the angels. Hollywood studios that bend the knee to Chinese communists need to know that government support for their bottom line comes with strings. Most studios make the majority of their profits in the U.S. and western Europe anyway, so they should be asking themselves a question:
Is selling your soul to feed your wallet really worth it?