The Hello to Chinese Censors

 

Back in college, I worked as a theater usher and I think it was then that I began the practice of reading the credits. I would wait in the back of the theater for people to leave so I could sweep up popcorn and hope for dropped change. You have to wait for the end of the credits for two of my favorite trivia bits, the information about the music and locations. But sometimes you see something else interesting or odd. Now many wait through credits in Marvel and Pixar films for those extras, but I seat through all credits of all films I see in the theater.

The Farewell is a very good film in theaters now (rocking 99% at Rotten Tomatoes) about a family divided. A woman’s children have left China and migrated (one assumes legally) out of the country, one son to Japan and the other to America, New York City. 

The opening credits read “Based on an actual lie.” When the mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer, she is not told, as we learn is commonplace in many Chinese families. Doctors go along keeping this news from the dying woman. Everyone else in the family knows, but not her. But to give the family a chance to say goodbye to their mother/grandmother, a sham wedding is planned.

It is a warm, sad, and funny film about families, and certainly is worth seeking out. (There is even a story about a church in the film that allowed me to write about it in my blog about films and clergy.)

But there is an extremely odd credit to be found if you’re looking for it. A credit for “Chinese Censorship Advisor”. The movie was filmed in New York and China, so it makes sense that this was a needed role. Sadly, it seems that many Hollywood films employ such a person, though they are usually not listed in the credits. Hollywood films don’t mind mocking conservatives or Christians, but it is important to be careful about offending the National People’s Congress.

Have you noticed special consideration given to the Communist Chinese in films? It is there. (And are there any other credit readers out there?)

 

Published in Entertainment
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 46 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  1. Arahant Member

    Eustace C. Scrubb: (And are there any other credit readers out there?)

    Yes, there are so many wonderful job titles in the movie business, and some production companies are less serious than others. One never knows when one will see that the film had a Tribble Wrangler. Also, one sees so many great names. When one is an author, one is always looking for distinctive names for characters. There are often lists of production babies born during the making of the film.

    As for the movie, my wife saw it and liked it. She also saw a recent interview with the film-maker, and the grandmother is still alive six years later.

    • #1
    • August 14, 2019, at 11:07 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  2. Arahant Member

    There are also movies where one has to see them at least twice. Once to watch what is happening during the credits and once to read the credits.

    • #2
    • August 14, 2019, at 11:08 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  3. Judge Mental Member

    Arahant (View Comment):
    Also, one sees so many great names.

    I like the ones made in Eastern Europe. You’ll a list of guys doing one job, like grips, and you’ll have four Lazlos and a Zoltan.

    • #3
    • August 14, 2019, at 11:12 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  4. Arahant Member

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    you’ll have four Lazlos and a Zoltan.

    Definitely Hungary.

    • #4
    • August 14, 2019, at 11:15 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  5. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    How can someone leave the theater while the credits are still rolling? It simply isn’t done.

    I think part of my feeling about credits (and the music and film location blurbs) is from one summer when I was in LA a lot and friends worked in the industry. They had to sit out the credits – their own names might be there on the big screen in front of us.

    And then in Marin, sometimes it seemed like half the audience was involved in minor or major ways because of their working for George Lucas. My son attended grammar school with one of the Wookies – the family that Lucas named the Chewbacha character’s species after.

    And The Farewell seems like one movie I should see in a theater this summer. The premise is a decent one, and the young lady that plays the lead is a joy to watch.

    • #5
    • August 15, 2019, at 12:34 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  6. Gary McVey Contributor

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):

    How can someone leave the theater while the credits are still rolling? It simply isn’t done.

    I think part of my feeling about credits (and the music and film location blurbs) is from one summer when I was in LA a lot and friends worked in the industry. They had to sit out the credits – their own names might be there on the big screen in front of us.

    And then in Marin, sometimes it seemed like half the audience was involved in minor or major ways because of their working for George Lucas. My son attended grammar school with one of the Wookies – the family that Lucas named the Chewbacha character’s species after.

    And The Farewell seems like one movie I should see in a theater this summer. The premise is a decent one, and the young lady that plays the lead is a joy to watch.

    C’mon, Carol Joy, this is post material. I bet you’d make Main Feed in 12 hours or less. 

    • #6
    • August 15, 2019, at 1:49 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. Gary McVey Contributor

    I disagree with one implication of the OP, that a credit for “Chinese Censorship Adviser” is kowtowing to the Chinese. They’d see it as a provocation, an insult. The filmmakers are openly acknowledging what everyone knows and nobody is supposed to say. They deserve credit, not blame for that. They’re being honest. 

    Yeah, I’ll take the criticism of Hollywood, just as soon as Boeing and Buick and Microsoft announce that they’re pulling out, too. Capitalism is capitalism, and the line about us being eager to sell them the rope to hang ourselves has, after all, a germ of truth in it.

    • #7
    • August 15, 2019, at 1:54 AM PDT
    • 12 likes
  8. Gary McVey Contributor

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):
    Also, one sees so many great names.

    I like the ones made in Eastern Europe. You’ll a list of guys doing one job, like grips, and you’ll have four Lazlos and a Zoltan.

    If I’d made a feature film in the Nineties, that was a really smart place to do it. London or Hollywood level craft skills at maybe one seventh the price? That’d be worth a “Jo Reggelt” to the crew each morning. 

    • #8
    • August 15, 2019, at 1:57 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. Arahant Member

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    I disagree with one implication of the OP, that a credit for “Chinese Censorship Adviser” is kowtowing to the Chinese. They’d see it as a provocation, an insult. The filmmakers are openly acknowledging what everyone knows and nobody is supposed to say. They deserve credit, not blame for that. They’re being honest. 

    One of the things the director said in the interview my wife saw was that the movie was not going to be released in Asian markets, because there it would be such a non-story. The only reason she saw it as a story was that she was the granddaughter who was raised in the US. They hide diagnoses from people all the time in Asia, so it’s a nothing-burger for them. It would be like us making a movie about a wedding or funeral that goes well. Where’s the story in that? It’s part of life. If there are no crises, it won’t sell. Now, have the deceased father’s gay dwarf lover show up with documentary pictures, and you’ve a story. So, her being open about the censorship may not be a poke in the eye to China, since it won’t play there.

    • #9
    • August 15, 2019, at 2:22 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  10. Old Buckeye Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    you’ll have four Lazlos and a Zoltan.

    Definitely Hungary.

    My cousin was married to Vilmos Zsigmond, Hungarian cinematographer. The Hungarians seem to utilize letters we use less frequently in English.

    • #10
    • August 15, 2019, at 3:34 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  11. Arahant Member

    Old Buckeye (View Comment):
    The Hungarians seem to utilize letters we use less frequently in English.

    Their language is from a different language family than most European languages. Their orthography is also very different from English orthography.

    • #11
    • August 15, 2019, at 3:50 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. aardo vozz Member

     four Lazlos and a Zoltan.

    This could be the title of a very interesting movie 🍿🍿🍿🙂🙂🙂

    • #12
    • August 15, 2019, at 4:15 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  13. Ed G. Member

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    I disagree with one implication of the OP, that a credit for “Chinese Censorship Adviser” is kowtowing to the Chinese. They’d see it as a provocation, an insult. The filmmakers are openly acknowledging what everyone knows and nobody is supposed to say. They deserve credit, not blame for that. They’re being honest.

    Yeah, I’ll take the criticism of Hollywood, just as soon as Boeing and Buick and Microsoft announce that they’re pulling out, too. Capitalism is capitalism, and the line about us being eager to sell them the rope to hang ourselves has, after all, a germ of truth in it.

    Gary, I think many of us have always looked askance at other industries operating in China too. It’s just too much of a reversal from the Cold War stances, and some of us still View communism as a threatening evil.

    • #13
    • August 15, 2019, at 5:26 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  14. DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader Member

    Ed G. (View Comment):
    Gary, I think many of us have always looked askance at other industries operating in China too. It’s just too much of a reversal from the Cold War stances, and some of us still View communism as a threatening evil.

    Well, I think we always assumed that businesses operating (relatively) freely in these countries would change these commies into capitalists. It’s seems more that instead the businesses adopt a commie way of operating.

    • #14
    • August 15, 2019, at 6:13 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  15. EB Thatcher
    EB

    The most recent Bon Appetit foodcast interviewed the director/writer, Lulu Wang, along with B.A. food photographer, Alex Lau. It was very interesting because along with discussing the premise of the movie, Wang’s family, and Chinese (and Chinese/American) family life, they also talked about the role food plays both in life and in the movie. I am definitely planning on seeing the movie. I also look forward to seeing Awkwafina. She was great in Crazy Rich Asians.

    • #15
    • August 15, 2019, at 6:42 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. EB Thatcher
    EB

    Arahant (View Comment):
    because there it would be such a non-story.

    Lulu Wang also commented that trying to explain “foodies” to the Chinese is hard because they generally all feel intensely interested in food, how it’s made, etc. – except not the picture-taking and sharing on social media.

    • #16
    • August 15, 2019, at 6:46 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. Ed G. Member

    DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader (View Comment):

    Ed G. (View Comment):
    Gary, I think many of us have always looked askance at other industries operating in China too. It’s just too much of a reversal from the Cold War stances, and some of us still View communism as a threatening evil.

    Well, I think we always assumed that businesses operating (relatively) freely in these countries would change these commies into capitalists. It’s seems more that instead the businesses adopt a commie way of operating.

    I’ll admit that I didn’t make some prescient prediction way back when and neither did I have much of a strong feeling against that strategy. However, I always did have some vague feeling against it. The blue jeans and rock and roll strategy makes some sense too so neither have I been a staunch opponent of the strategy to normalize China by normalizing relations. Maybe it would have worked out that way in a different time. Globalism, relativism – I don’t think the normalization strategy works with these as dominant ideas. There is no such thing as normal, and where there is normal I don’t think it’s as desirable as normal used to be.

    • #17
    • August 15, 2019, at 7:12 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. Brian Watt Member

    FWIW – The removal of the Taiwan and Japan patches on Maverick’s flight jacket in the new Top Gun: Maverick movie may be an example of kowtowing to the Chinese backers of the film. 

    I think it’s pretty clear that the Chinese government are happy to allow productions of historical fantasy films all day long but would no doubt censor or kill any production that is overtly critical of Mao, Mao’s Great Famine, the Cultural Revolution, the destruction of thousands of historical art and artifacts by the communists, the prison system, the suppression of various religious groups, the Tiananmen Massacre, etc., etc.

    • #18
    • August 15, 2019, at 7:26 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  19. kelsurprise, drama queen Member

    As an actress who’s only ever done bit parts on film, I feel honor-bound to stay until every last “girl at party” or “angry guy in restaurant” has been identified. But then, I think my family always tended to stay for the credits, especially if there was some great closing music playing over them.

    One time, though, my dad and I had just watched a pretty forgettable action flick and since we were on a tight schedule to make dinner he got up just seconds into the closing credits, then looked at me quizzically when I didn’t follow suit.

    “Hold on, I wanna check something.”

    “In the credits?”

    “Yeah. Because there were some really cool-looking knives in there and I read an article last week about this guy who makes amazing custom knives and on the first job he ever did for a movie, some jerk producer completely swindled him and so ever since then, he has very specific contracts drawn up that cover everything, right down to the size and font that must be used for his credits.”

    Ooooookay,” Dad drawled, before dutifully sitting back down to scour the screen with me. But alas, no special, out-sized, fancy font credit for custom weaponry ever appeared.

    That was over twenty years ago. And yet, to this day, when the credits end and the lights go up, Dad will often turn to me and ask “Didja see who did the knives?”

    • #19
    • August 15, 2019, at 7:38 AM PDT
    • 16 likes
  20. Arahant Member

    Brian Watt (View Comment):
    FWIW – The removal of the Taiwan and Japan patches on Maverick’s flight jacket in the new Top Gun: Maverick movie may be an example of kowtowing to the Chinese backers of the film. 

    See the remake of Red Dawn.

    • #20
    • August 15, 2019, at 7:57 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  21. Brian Watt Member

    The label “Chinese Censorship Advisor” may apply to someone who is familiar with what the Chinese government will or will not allow and not necessarily a member of the Chinese government. The ‘advisor’ may be Chinese but not a citizen of China who may be providing their services to production companies because of their connections with the ChiCom bureaucracy responsible for film and television productions in China.

    • #21
    • August 15, 2019, at 8:03 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  22. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Old Buckeye (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    you’ll have four Lazlos and a Zoltan.

    Definitely Hungary.

    My cousin was married to Vilmos Zsigmond, Hungarian cinematographer. The Hungarians seem to utilize letters we use less frequently in English.

    They are a frugal people and let no part of the alphabet go to waste. 

    • #22
    • August 15, 2019, at 9:01 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  23. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    aardo vozz (View Comment):

    four Lazlos and a Zoltan.

    This could be the title of a very interesting movie 🍿🍿🍿🙂🙂🙂

    I’m seeing a retro-50s sci-fi space opera. Zoltan is either the evil emperor or the only spaceman who could possibly beat the evil emperor. Lazlo is the sidekick. Or possibly an alien species. 

    • #23
    • August 15, 2019, at 9:03 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  24. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb Post author

    EB

    The most recent Bon Appetit foodcast interviewed the director/writer, Lulu Wang, along with B.A. food photographer, Alex Lau. It was very interesting because along with discussing the premise of the movie, Wang’s family, and Chinese (and Chinese/American) family life, they also talked about the role food plays both in life and in the movie. I am definitely planning on seeing the movie. I also look forward to seeing Awkwafina. She was great in Crazy Rich Asians.

    Food porn was another great pleasure in the film. My wife and I kept whispering to each other, “I want to eat that!”

    And if you are watching credits for interesting names, it’s hard to top Awkafina. (Yes, she did name herself. At fifteen. As a rapper. After the water bottle.)

    • #24
    • August 15, 2019, at 9:05 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  25. DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader Member

    I had a ficus named Zoltán. Named after the composer Zoltán Kodály.

    • #25
    • August 15, 2019, at 9:14 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  26. Arahant Member

    DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader (View Comment):

    I had a ficus named Zoltán. Named after the composer Zoltán Kodály.

    You give your plants human names?

    • #26
    • August 15, 2019, at 9:17 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  27. DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader (View Comment):

    I had a ficus named Zoltán. Named after the composer Zoltán Kodály.

    You give your plants human names?

    You give your cats human names!!

    • #27
    • August 15, 2019, at 9:32 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  28. Arahant Member

    DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader (View Comment):

    I had a ficus named Zoltán. Named after the composer Zoltán Kodály.

    You give your plants human names?

    You give your cats human names!!

    Did you name your daughters Rose and Petunia?

    • #28
    • August 15, 2019, at 9:33 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  29. Brian Watt Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader (View Comment):

    I had a ficus named Zoltán. Named after the composer Zoltán Kodály.

    You give your plants human names?

    You give your cats human names!!

    Did you name your daughters Rose and Petunia?

    One wonders what nickname Senator Feinstein gave to her Chinese plant…hmmm…..

    • #29
    • August 15, 2019, at 9:46 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  30. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    DrewInWisconsin, Thought Leader (View Comment):

    I had a ficus named Zoltán. Named after the composer Zoltán Kodály.

    The only good name for a houseplant is Robert.

    • #30
    • August 15, 2019, at 9:49 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  1. 1
  2. 2