Why is the Chinese language Communist Social gathering afraid of ghosts?
Who doesn’t like a good scary movie? Or an adventure story that encompasses the dimensions of time and space?
The Chinese Communist Party routinely censors films, newspapers, television and social media in China that criticize its oppression in Tibet, its Tiananmen Square and, of course, its censorship.
But why should the CCP be afraid of ghosts and time travel?
According to PEN America’s recent report, “Made in Hollywood, Censored by Beijing,” the CCP is censoring issues that may remind viewers of its authoritarian control and corruption.
In Chinese literature and folk tales, “evil spirits” are used as a metaphor for corrupt officials, the report said, citing Aowen Jin, a Chinese-born British artist. “The ban on ghost stories sounds almost absurd and ridiculous to the West, yet it carries the deeply ingrained historical fear that the government feels towards its own people,” said Jin.
The 2016 US remake of the comedy Ghostbusters was banned in China. It fell victim to the CCP’s 2008 restrictions on films depicting “Terror, Ghost and the Supernatural.”
A Hollywood writer tells PEN America, a nonprofit that defends freedom of expression, that the popular 1990 film Ghost with Demi Moore is unlikely to be re-shot today for fear the CCP censorship would take it out of the lucrative Chinese market to ban.
A security guard looks at a billboard full of movie posters outside a theater in Beijing on April 25, 1997. (© Greg Baker / AP Images)
The PEN America report is just the latest evidence of how far the CCP will go to control the information. The Committee to Protect Journalists in a December 2019 report found that China is detaining more journalists than any other country in the world.
The CCP also employs tens of thousands of people at the national, provincial, and local levels to monitor the Internet. Prohibited content ranges from references to the regime’s human rights violations on Tiananmen Square in 1989 to images of Winnie the Pooh sometimes used by Chinese internet users to represent President Xi Jinping.
The regime wants to make sure that the Chinese only learn the party’s version of history.
The CCP censors issued guidelines in 2011 banning depictions of time travel, claiming that these films “treated serious history lightly.” Though the ban is vague, a Hollywood producer tells PEN America that time travel stories may offer different interpretations of the story.
A critical review of modern history brought Mongolian historian Lhamjab Borjigin to prison in 2019 for “separatism” and “sabotage of national unity” for publishing a book documenting the CCP-backed atrocities in Inner Mongolia during the Cultural Revolution were.
Hide human rights violations
The CCP’s censorship extends beyond China as film producers around the world are complying with the CCP’s demands to change details, change characters, and rewrite key plot points to gain access to the country’s movie theater market.
American film director Judd Apatow recently told MSNBC that films that awaken the world to the CCP’s ongoing human rights violations, such as the detention of more than 1 million Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang, may never be made.
“Instead of doing business with China, which leads to China becoming freer,” said Apatow, “what happened … China bought our silence with their money.”
US Attorney General William Barr said in July: “Globalization does not always point towards greater freedom. A world that marches to the beat of the drums of communist China will not be hospitable to institutions that depend on free markets, free trade, or free exchange of ideas. “