Hollywood bows before China’s censorship cops: Leaked Sony emails detail pathetic ‘Pixels’ edits

Pixels Pac ManThe fallout for Hollywood from North Korea’s 2014 Sony emails hack continues. Reuters published an amazing story on Friday, which details just how far studio heads will go to appease China’s censorship cops.

“How Sony sanitized the new Adam Sandler movie to please Chinese censors” is a damning indictment of an industry that will sacrifice artistic freedom at a moment’s notice if communist goons can promise bigger box office receipts.

Reuters reported:

Sony executives spared the Great Wall because they were anxious to get the movie approved for release in China, a review of internal Sony Pictures emails shows. It is just one of a series of changes aimed at stripping the movie of content that, Sony managers feared, Chinese authorities might have construed as casting their country in a negative light.

Along with the Great Wall scene, out went a scene in which China was mentioned as a potential culprit behind an attack, as well as a reference to a “Communist-conspiracy brother” hacking a mail server — all to increase the chances of getting “Pixels” access to the world’s second-biggest box office.

“Even though breaking a hole on the Great Wall may not be a problem as long as it is part of a worldwide phenomenon, it is actually unnecessary because it will not benefit the China release at all. I would then, recommend not to do it,” Li Chow, chief representative of Sony Pictures in China, wrote in a December 2013 email to senior Sony executives.

Sony refused to comment on the story, only telling Reuters “There are myriad factors that go into determining what is best for a film’s release, and creating content that has wide global appeal without compromising creative integrity is top among them.”

Do you remember when Marvel Studios turned Mandarin into a white guy for Iron Man 3 — and then released a different version of the film just for China? Do you remember when MGM changed the villains in Red Dawn remake from Chinese communists to North Koreans? Do you remember when Sony Studios cut scenes from Men in Black 3 because China’s censorship board feared they would remind audiences of Chinese communists’ love for censorship? I do.

The Los Angeles Times reported May 31, 2012:

“Men in Black 3” is the latest film to face the wrath of Chinese censors.

At least three minutes of Sony’s sci-fi comedy have been excised for its Chinese theatrical run, according to a person with knowledge of the matter who was not authorized to speak about it publicly.

The offending moments take place in New York’s Chinatown. They include a Chinese-restaurant shootout between evil aliens and Will Smith’s Agent J and Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent K — the aliens are disguised as restaurant workers — as well as a moment when Smith’s J “neuralyzes,” or memory-wipes, a group of Chinese bystanders.

A Chinese paper, the China Southern Daily, speculated that the latter scene may have been cut because it could be viewed as a comment on China’s censorship of the Internet.

Telling, isn’t it? And these days the studios know that bloggers are watching. The leaked Sony emails revealed Steven O’Dell, president of Sony Pictures Releasing International, isn’t a fan of writers like yours truly.

Pixels Adam SandlerReuters reported:

In the case of “Pixels,” in which the aliens attack Earth in the form of popular video game characters, the Sony emails point to the creation of a single version for all audiences – a China-friendly one. The logic behind Sony’s thinking was explained by Steven O’Dell, president of Sony Pictures Releasing International, in a September 12, 2013 email about “RoboCop.”

“Changing the China elements to another country should be a relatively easy fix,” O’Dell wrote. “There is only downside to leaving the film as it is. Recommendation is to change all versions as if we only change the China version, we set ourselves up for the press to call us out for this when bloggers invariably compare the versions and realize we changed the China setting just to pacify that market.”

Let us go back to Sony’s insistence that it does not make changes that would “compromising creative integrity,” shall we?

CNN reported July 10, 2015:

Government investigators now believe that the data theft from the Office of Personnel Management computer systems compromised sensitive personal information, including Social Security numbers, of roughly 21.5 million people from both inside and outside the government, the government announced Thursday.

Of these, hackers obtained information from the security clearance applications — known as SF-86’s – of 19.7 million people.

The U.S. government believes China was behind that attack. When China’s state-sponsored hackers steal over 21 million records from the U.S. federal government, then it most certainly compromises creative integrity to cut Chinese hacker jokes from a comedy.

How sad is it that Hollywood studios will churn out movie after movie that casts America as the villain, yet executives will cut innocuous scenes that involve The Great Wall of China. (We’re cool with destroying The Washington Monument, but The Great Wall is too much. That will have to go. Thanks.) How embarrassing is it that Hollywood studios talk about creative integrity while sanitizing lighthearted comedies to appease communist censorship boards.

Perhaps the best way to respond to Sony’s defense of its “Pixels” edits is to share a quote from another Adam Sandler movie — Billy Madison.

“[Sony Pictures], what you’ve just said is one of the insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling incoherent response were you even close to anything resembling anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.” (Billy Madison. Universal Studios,1996.)

Something is incredibly wrong when Chinese censorship cops have veto power over everything from spy thrillers and war movies to Adam Sandler fare — and the studios play ball. Luckily, American audiences can vote with their wallets.

Binders and Big Bird: Obama campaign becomes Billy Madison

The Obama campaign has become all about kid stuff: Big Bird and Binders. While Mitt Romney obsesses over job creation and debt, Obama’s supporters obsess over which passing reference from each debate can be turned into a multi-news cycle punchline. They’re like Billy Madison without Adam Sandler’s likability.

The Obama campaign is in trouble. Big trouble. And that’s because it is increasingly making itself about small things. Kid stuff, like Big Bird and binders. Forced to defend President Obama’s dismal economic record over the past four years, his disciples look to latch onto anything that could be turned into a meme or a Saturday Night Live sketch.

There’s one problem with their strategy: independent voters with half a brain aren’t in the mood for jokes. The United States had over 40 months of 8 percent unemployment. Currently, the jobless rate stands at 7.8 percent. The nation is $16 trillion dollars in debt and we just had an American ambassador slaughtered in the Middle East by terrorists. The guy who ran on the soaring vagueness of “Hope and Change” now has a record to defend, and it’s not one that has your average American in the mood to crack jokes.

Immediately after the second presidential debate, a liberal friend of mine said it was a bad night for Mitt. I told him to take off his partisan goggles, and he made a joke about binders. Fair enough, but it’s illustrative of where Obama’s supporters are at the moment, which happens to be somewhere outside the realm of reality.

For a guy who didn’t do so hot last night, the CNN snap-poll and the MSNBC focus groups seem to suggest otherwise.

Obama won the overall debate, 46-39%, but Romney beat him senseless on all the important individual issues like the economy, health care, deficit, and taxes.

Unlike the CBS poll, CNN polled registered voters, not just undecideds.

Economy: Romney wins 58-40%
Health care: Romney wins 49-46%.
Taxes: Romney wins 51-44%.
Deficit: Romney wins 49-36%.
Strong leader: Romney wins 49-46%.

The worst news is that 25% of voters switched their vote to Romney and 25% went to Obama. In other words, Obama didn’t move the ball, which is what he needed to do.

Romney’s goals last night were nothing like Obama’s. Romney simply needed to look presidential. He needed to look a like a reasonable, intelligent man who could be trusted in the Oval Office. The first debate established his credibility with 70 million Americans, and the second was an opportunity to further flesh out his ideas and win over voters. He did that — and then some.

When voters are alone in the voting both they will think first and foremost about the economy. Romney pounded the president on that all night, and he landed some serious blows.

He said that by now we’d have unemployment at 5.4 percent. The difference between where it is and 5.4 percent is 9 million Americans without work. I wasn’t the one that said 5.4 percent. This was the president’s plan. Didn’t get there.

He said he would have by now put forward a plan to reform Medicare and Social Security, because he pointed out they’re on the road to bankruptcy. He would reform them. He’d get that done. He hasn’t even made a proposal on either one.

He said in his first year he’d put out an immigration plan that would deal with our immigration challenges. Didn’t even file it.

This is a president who has not been able to do what he said he’d do. He said that he’d cut in half the deficit. He hasn’t done that either. …

The middle class is getting crushed under the policies of a president who has not understood what it takes to get the economy working again. He keeps saying, “Look, I’ve created 5 million jobs.” That’s after losing 5 million jobs. The entire record is such that the unemployment has not been reduced in this country. The unemployment, the number of people who are still looking for work, is still 23 million Americans. There are more people in poverty, one out of six people in poverty.

These are the issues that concern the American people at this time. They do not care about Big Bird. They do not care about how Mitt Romney phrases an anecdote about his attempt to hire highly qualified women for his cabinet. And as long as President Obama’s supporters want to laugh at trivial matters while the country faces serious issues, they will be setting themselves up for a crier on November 7th.

Rob Schneider, “star” of Surf Ninjas, Knocks Dennis Miller. Nuff said.

Rob, remember when you got a beat down in “Knock Off”? With the invention of this thing called the internet, that’s what happens to liberals when they take cheap pot shots using stale canards.

If one Googles “going after the low hanging fruit” I hope they come across Rob Schneider’s name, because that’s what making fun of him is.  But I’m about to do it, because he’s given me no choice:

Q: So are you political? Like a liberal version of Dennis Miller?

A: I don’t think Dennis Miller is as smart as people think. He’s a fascist. He seems to be manipulated by money. All conservatism is grasping what was radical 90 years ago. There are no ideas. They’re a bunch of nuts like (Fox News Channel’s) Mike Huckabee, who believes the planet is only 500 years old. He’s an idiot. Not that Democrats have any good ideas, either. (President Barack) Obama is my favorite community organizer. He couldn’t run a Kinko’s, so I’m not sure why he’s running the biggest economy on the planet. I think we need to enlist presidents against their own will. Find the most qualified people who don’t want to be president.

First off, I’m going to cut Rob some slack. In the article he states that he’s returning to the circuit after 17 years and wants to have one killer set. Somehow, I doubt he would ever out himself as a fiscal conservative who is socially liberal if that were true. With that said—he’s still an idiot. Here’s why:

  • Everyone knows Dennis Miller is a smart, well read guy.  If fact, sometimes he’s too smart for his own good, engaging in esoteric jokes few people get in front an audience he knows doesn’t get it.  If I thought he was doing it to prompt them to look up Romantic Era British poets it would be one thing, but I get the feeling he’s more pretentious than professorial.
  • The liberal canard that if you disagree with them you’re a “fascist” isn’t going to fly any more. The liberal anti-war movement came to town with body odor and really bad signs…and failed. The Tea Party has come to town armed with Hayek and Batstiat. Rob apparently isn’t impressed with “old” ideas because they’re not new (never mind that basic economics works). The Tea Party will be a force to be reckoned with if they can transition from populist movement to a viable political party (whether that means purging the GOP of it’s weak-kneed elitist establishment clowns and getting it back to its roots, or breaking off to form a third party is yet to be determined).
  • The idea that Dennis Miller has a little radio show “for money” is laughable.  There’s much more money to be made as a shill for liberalism in the entertainment industry than as a conservative radio host.

Question for Rob: It’s been thrown about that Adam Sandler has a few conservative streaks running through his bones. Does that make him a “fascist,” or does he get a pass because he generally keeps his mouth shut? I suppose another theory is that you don’t call him out because he’s been the primary source of your employment for the past decade…

Regardless, Rob accurately states that Barack Obama couldn’t manage a Kinkos.  He then goes on to wonder why Dennis Miller might be livid that the President is trying to fundamentally change the nature of America with Big Government On Steroids and public policy experiments that have historically been dismal failures. Is it possible Dennis Miller doesn’t want the United States to emulate Greece’s recent meltdown? Not in Schneider’s world. Is it possible that Dennis Miller looks at Europe and sees a cultural zombie sadly chewing on itself in the corner? Not in Schneider’s world. And that’s why Rob is a clown.

Dear Rob,

When is another installment of Surf Ninjas coming out? I’d ask when you’ll be playing another Sylvester Stallone sidekick, but after The Expendables we all know what the answer to that is.

Taking a shot at Dennis Miller was a low blow, Rob. It makes me think that as a comedian you’ll be just another Knock Off; fitting, since your judgment is actually worse than Jean Claude Van Damme’s. He turned down a chance to take part in The Expendables, but at least he didn’t pass up JCVD.