China Pulls Avatar to Make Room For Confucious
This coming Friday might be the last chance for people to see Avatar in Chinese 2D theaters.
Although the exact details of the move by the China Film Group Company are unknown — as in when exactly and why — it makes sense that the censors would finally catch up to the Avatar-hype and shut it down.
Since the movie came out people have been standing in lines waiting to get a seat, going once, twice and thrice to see the movie, paying big money each time, and then discussing it with their friends. The overwhelming response has been awe and delight coupled with social and political commentary.
Chinese people see the movie as a reflection of what is going on all over China: the destruction of homes and buildings in order for real estate companies and local officials to cash in. The new rich take over the housing at ever increasing prices and destitute peasants are evicted and forgotten. Blogs and forums across the nation have been talking about this issue and the extraordinarily beautiful way Cameron’s 3D epic brings this message across.
Another factor is the domestic release of Confucius, starring Chow Yun-Fat — which happens to be this Friday.
Confucius is a legendary philosopher and for many people around the world, one of the first people they think of when they think of China. The movie has received little hype in the media and many people in the Chinese film industry worry that the film will flop if forced to compete with Avatar. Confucius’ ideals also jibe much better with the Chinese government’s goal of “rightly guiding the people’s opinion,” because one of his main ideas was to obey the authorities, from the Emperor all the way down to the “man of the house.” Confucius ideal gentleman was an upright, moral individual who served his state well and took care of his family the way a “classic, traditional” man should. This is the message the government wants to put out, not Avatar’s message of hope, rebellion, and courage in the face of profiteering greed and environmental devastation.
If China Film pulls Avatar from 2D theaters, that effectively removes the movie from China because there are few theaters in China presenting Avatar in it’s 3D format — in total, less than fifty. The “rumor” was first posted in blogs and chat rooms in Wuxi, after the Wuxi IMAX theater announced its plans to pull the movie, then exploded across China when Danwei.org picked it up and published the news in English.
With all of the hype already surrounding Avatar and the countless online threads dealing with the destruction of homes issue that has Chinese up in arms, it’s hard to imagine the move eliciting a positive reaction from netizens. One can only assume that the government is mobilizing the Five Cent Gang to hit the forums hard, pushing nationalism through idealization of one of China’s greatest thinkers, Confucius, to swing public opinion away from the plight of the blue-skinned Navi in Hollywood’s import.
Note: The Five Cent Gang article authored by David Bandurski for the Far East Economic Review is blocked in the mainland and you’ll need to a VPN to access it.
What do you think?