Texas Senator Ted Cruz introduced a bill called the “SCRIPT ACT” which would cut off consulting and cooperation between the Department of Defense and Hollywood film studios who co-produce their films and censor them on behalf of the communist Chinese government.
The bill’s goal is to limit or prohibit the use of Department of Defense resources used to help movie studios with many aspects of their films, such as consulting with military personnel for accuracy.
The bill’s summary reads:
“To prohibit the use of Department of Defense funds for the production of films by United States companies that alter content for screening in the People’s Republic of China, and for other purposes.”
The bill specifically details that the Secretary of Defense “may not provide technical support or access to any asset controlled by the Department” if the film is “co-produced by an entity located in the People’s Republic of China that is subject to conditions on content imposed by an official of the Government of the People’s Republic of China or the Chinese Communist Party.”
Cruz described the bill as a “wakeup call” for Hollywood where they will need to choose between “assistance from the American government” and funding from the communist government of China.
Cruz explained the bill, “From buying media outlets to broadcast propaganda into America to coercing Hollywood studios and sports leagues to self-censor by threatening to cut off access to one of the biggest markets for sports and entertainment in the world, the Chinese Communist Party spends billions and billions of dollars to mislead Americans about China and shape what our citizens see, hear, and think.”
He continued, “All of these activities are part of China’s whole-of-state approach to amass more influence around the world through information warfare – and we need to put a stop to it.”
He added, “For too long, Hollywood has been complicit in China’s censorship and propaganda in the name of bigger profits. The SCRIPT Act will serve as a wakeup call by forcing Hollywood studios to choose between the assistance they need from the American government and the dollars they want from China.”
He echoed those comments on Twitter.
For too long, Hollywood has been complicit in China’s censorship and propaganda in the name of bigger profits: https://t.co/EmqdC5H012
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) April 28, 2020
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: https://t.co/EmqdC5H012
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) April 28, 2020
Hollywood studios have a history of censoring films for international markets, the reason being that the Chinese market is one of the largest movie going markets in the world. And given it has one of the largest markets, there’s a great deal of money to be made there.
One of the biggest film franchises that is censored for China is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, Doctor Strange writer Robert Cargill intimated that the film cast Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One due to China.
Cargill explained, “The thing about the Ancient One is it is Marvel’s Kobayashi Maru. There is no other character in Marvel history that is such a cultural landmine, that is absolutely unwinnable.”
He continued, “I’ve been reading a bunch of people talking about it and the really frustrating thing about it this week is that most of the people who have thoughts on it haven’t thought it all the way through and they go, ‘Why didn’t they just do this?’ And it’s like, I could tell you why.”
He added, “I could tell you why every single decision that involves the Ancient One is a bad one, and just like the Kobayashi Maru, it all comes down on which way you’re willing to lose.”
He then goes to detail that if you recognize that the Ancient One is from Tibet, as he is in the comics, then you risk alienating China, “The Ancient One was a racist stereotype who comes from a region of the world that is in a very weird political place. He originates from Tibet, so if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people who think that that’s bulls**t.”
He elaborated, “And risk the Chinese government going, ‘Hey, you know one of the biggest film-watching countries in the world? We’re not going to show your movie because you decided to get political.”
He concluded, “If we decide to go the other way and cater to China in particular and have him be in Tibet…The thing that makes me pull my hair out is, some people are like, ‘Why not cast Michelle Yeoh?’ Well, first of all Michelle Yeoh is awesome. I would love to make a film with Michelle Yeoh. If you think it’s a good idea to cast a Chinese actress as a Tibetan character, you are out of your damn fool mind and have no idea what the f**k you’re talking about.”
Cargill later adds, “The levels of cultural sensitivity around this thing is that everybody is staking out their one particular place and not realizing that every single thing here is a losing proposition. We could pretend the Ancient One doesn’t exist and then we are just eradicating one of the main characters from the story to just not deal with race.”
Doctor Strange isn’t the only example of Marvel Studios changing their films for China. CNet reports that Captain America used a “Chinese-made Vivo phone, rather than an iPhone from US-based Apple” in Captain America: Civil War.
CNet also details that in Iron Man 3, Chinese surgeons are seen saving Tony Stark in the Chinese version of the film.
It’s not just Disney and Marvel Studios. Other major Hollywood studios also censor their products for China. The remake of Red Dawn saw MGM change the villains to the North Koreans in order to secure a release in China.
The upcoming Top Gun sequel has also been accused of altering Maverick’s iconic jacket in order to appease the Chinese. In the film’s first trailer Maverick’s jacket, which he got from his father had removed both the flags of Japan and Taiwan. The reason being China’s testy relationship with Japan and its outright refusal to even recognize Taiwan as an independent nation.
Not only is Cruz taking aim at Hollywood studios, but he’s also targeting Chinese media outlets in general. In a press release, Cruz announced legislation targeting Chinese media outlets.
“China should not be able to set up shop in Mexico and blanket America with propaganda. Every year, the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] spends billions of dollars purchasing news outlets and waging information warfare to extend the reach of its propaganda and whitewash the unflattering and politically inconvenient truths about its totalitarian regime.”
He added, “We are seeing this play out right now as news outlets across the country parrot Chinese talking points about the coronavirus pandemic – a pandemic that could have prevented.”
Cruz concluded, ” I look forward to introducing this legislation when Congress returns and closing FCC loopholes that allow China to wage their information warfare from across the border in Mexico.”
Movies aren’t the only area of entertainment that either self-censors or flat out spill communist talking points. The video game industry and specifically Activision and Blizzard has also fallen capture to China and communism as seen in the recent bans and fines for Blitzchung when he showed support for Hong Kong protesters.
What do you think of this legislation from Ted Cruz? Does it make sense to not provide any funding or support to Hollywood who produce films that are co-produced by Chinese companies and censor their products specifically for China? If it’s enacted how do you think it will affect Hollywood moving forward?