PEN America imposes double standards of free expression in Hollywood

By Zhang Yi Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/6 20:48:40

Photo: Xinhua

A 94-page report published Wednesday by PEN America, a nonprofit organization that claims to defend free expression in the US and the world, revealed how "Beijing's censors have affected and influenced Hollywood and the global filmmaking industry," and how this influence propelled Hollywood to subject to self-censorship to "avoid antagonizing Chinese officials."

Despite chanting free expression, this report is actually US-style censorship that directs Hollywood what to do and what not to do, which is another sign of US double standards on expression. The purpose of the report is to pressure Hollywood to serve the US political goal of suppressing China in the name of preserving artistry and freedom of expression. This is censorship in the real sense.

Photo: Li Hao/GT

The report contends that China's goal of censoring film content or themes is to portray a specific vision of China which is "thriving, harmonious, powerful, and - perhaps most importantly - unified under the unchallenged and benign leadership of the Party." But don't forget that Hollywood is the one that plays political correctness well. The internationalization of Hollywood films is actually an Americanization process. No one would deny that Hollywood films are the artistic practice of American politics. Hollywood has become the spokesperson of US values, who is good at portraying the US as a great, free and just country and savior of the world. On the contrary, countries considered hostile to the US are often shown in a negative light. 300, a 2006 American period action film, and Not Without My Daughter, a 1991 drama, have drawn the ire of Iranians for vilifying their country.

Obviously, the US is anxious about a "thriving, harmonious, powerful and unified" China. If the US believes portraying such a China means bending to China's censorship, then the US is psychologically fragile. Actually, many films that expose the various social problems in China have been put on screen. Compared to the US, China is the beacon of openness, diversity and reason. 

The US, which stresses political correctness more than ever, does not enjoy so-called freedom of speech as much as it claims. While Hollywood blockbusters have be shown in China, such as superhero movies like Captain America, The Avengers and Spider-Man, to name just a few, will US authorities give the green light to films featuring Chinese heroes? The answer is no. So where does their touted freedom of speech lie?

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