In what could only be considered a revolutionary defense of free thought and artistic expression, The Pentagon – America’s Defense Department, has announced bold new regulations asserting its refusal to collaborate with filmmakers subservient to the censorship requirements of the Chinese government. The ripple effect of this decision is yet to be seen, but the implications for the cinema world are vast, affecting both the art of filmmaking and the business of film distribution.
American filmmaking should be about free expression and American values. It should not be used as a vehicle for CCP propaganda.
— Rep. Mark Green (@RepMarkGreen) July 3, 2023
The edict, unveiled on Wednesday and later secured by Politico, articulates that the Pentagon will unequivocally deny any assistance to cinematic productions that indicate a willingness to comply with Chinese censorship demands. The Department of Defense’s decision encapsulates a critical stand for freedom of speech, transcending mediums and geographies, having the potential to redefine norms in the relationship between Hollywood and foreign markets.
The document asserstainly states, “DOD will not provide production assistance when there is demonstrable evidence that the production has complied or is likely to comply with a demand from the Government of the People’s Republic of China…” Such an epochal decision will inevitably raise pressing questions about the future of American cinema’s entanglement with the Chinese censorship regime.
Hollywood and the Pentagon have long enjoyed cordial relations, aiding one another to create authentic motion picture experiences. Politico reports that this symbiotic relationship has allowed filmmakers access to military bases, naval vessels, and other installations for filming, while the military has gained from positive portrayals in these cinematic endeavors. However, the Pentagon’s recent decision could fundamentally shift the dynamics of this partnership, pushing Hollywood to reassess its relationship with China.
The matter of Chinese censorship came into sharp focus in 2019 when Republicans noted the altering of Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick to accommodate China’s censorship requests. It was widely reported that Paramount removed the Taiwanese flag from Maverick’s jacket, a character in the movie, only to reinstate it later, highlighting the often invisible but pervasive influence of foreign markets on American cinema.
Although the Department of Defense’s decision may seem drastic, it assumes immense significance against the backdrop of China’s rapidly expanding influence in Hollywood. China’s ascendence as a critical foreign box-office hub has driven studios to toe the line of China’s censorship laws in a bid to preserve market access. However, such commercial considerations have raised serious concerns about the compromises being made on freedom of speech and artistic liberties, issues that lie at the heart of the American ethos.
As the mighty wheels of the Pentagon set this new policy motion, Hollywood stands at a pivotal crossroads. The future will tell whether the titans of Tinseltown choose to prioritize artistic freedom over economic gain. Will the screen of silver fight for a spectrum of colorful expression or fade into a monochrome mirage of muted voices and dulled creativity?
In conclusion, the Pentagon’s recent policy shift is a clarion call for Hollywood to rediscover its commitment to artistic independence, even in the face of financial trade-offs. It is, in essence, a demand for the industry to refuse complicity in foreign censorship. It is hope for a cinema free from the shackles of external influence. This liberating defiance against the encroaching specter of foreign censorship offers a glimpse into the resilience of American values and the enduring power of free expression. This is not just a fight for control. This is a stand for freedom.