It wasn’t long ago that Marvel changed the name of Captain America to The First Avenger in places like Russia to make a few million extra bucks. Who needs artistic integrity when something as “meaningless” as the title can be fudged and fiddled with to appease fickle Commies on the other side of the globe?
Well, now Marvel has taken it to a new level. As I was taking a break from enjoying an epic Easter weekend feast with my wife and friends, I read an email from a regular reader on the decision to release a second version of Iron Man 3 for Chinese audiences.
In an announcement from Marvel Studios today, the company revealed that the Chinese version of the movie will include “significant Chinese elements” created in co-operation with Chinese media company DMG, which is distributing the movie in China.
“Both versions of the film include Iron Man 3 footage filmed in Beijing in December,” the announcement explains, but “the Chinese version of the film will also feature a special appearance of China’s top actress, Fan Bingbing, and will offer specially prepared bonus footage made exclusively for the Chinese audience.”
This is another example of American studios becoming more aware of the importance of China as a foreign market, and with good reason; last year, China became the second largest international market for U.S.-made movies (behind Japan) after box office receipts rose 31 percent to around $2.75 billion, and is expected to overtake the U.S. market by 2020. …
When the news broke of [MGM’s] alternation [to ‘Red Dawn’ to change its villains from the Chinese to North Koreans] last year, one Hollywood producer spoke anonymously to the L.A. Times, calling it “a clear-cut case — maybe the first I can think of in the history of Hollywood — where a foreign country’s censorship board deeply affects what we produce.” It may have been the first, but as today’s Iron Man 3 news suggests, it may not be the last as American studios try to become far more conscious of where the money is these days.
As I said in the comments section of my post on Iron Man 3:
[W]e shouldn’t be censoring ourselves to placate a bunch of Commies thugs. And if we are, that says quite a bit about where we are as a culture.
There is a big difference between being sensitive to a specific culture because a little sensitivity can translate into a large box office take, and making substantive changes to a film to win the approval of a foreign country’s censorship board — particularly when that country is China.
While I can’t imagine Shane “I think the ‘ultimate terrorist’ is an American” Black would have that much editorial snipping to do to make China’s censorship cops happy, what will it mean for future Marvel movies? Or American cinema in general?
How many Americans will actually watch the Mandarin version of Iron Man 3 to make sure the writers and producers aren’t surreptitiously sliming their own country? My bet: not many.
But I promise you this: I will.
Luckily, I have a “good friend” (understatement of the year award) who will obtain the Mandarin version, watch it with me, and translate it. It might take awhile, but once I get my hands on it I will do a review of the Iron Man 3 most Americans will never see.
Is it possible that Fan Bingbing’s role in the movie will be a cameo, at best? Yes. Is it possible that any changes or additions to Iron Man 3 will be rather innocuous? Yes. But that’s not the problem. The problem is the precedent that it sets to be to tailoring movies with serious social commentary to the whims of governments that do not respect freedom of speech, freedom or religion, or freedom of assembly.
Imagine your favorite political song or poem or work of fiction. Now imagine the artist responsible changing the content to get it played on Chinese radio or viewed in Chinese libraries. How would you feel? Pretty depressed? I know I would.
Hollywood’s elite see itself as a collection of talented artists, but they are setting the stage to further prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are merely artistic pimps and prostitutes for the highest bidder.