On December 5, 1930, the movie, All Quiet on the Western Front, had its first public screening in Berlin in a theatre filled with members of the Nazi party. The film, a fair documentation of the horrors of World War 1, was met with much hostility. When the film depicted the German soldiers retreating from the French, the theatre erupted in outrage. Audience members shouted, "German soldiers had courage. It's a disgrace that such an insulting film was made in America!" The film was shut off. Joseph Goebbels gave an anti-American speech from the balcony, the audience rush for the doors, and the theatre was shut down. Subsequently, the censorship board in Germany decided to ban the film because they claimed it was an unfair depiction of the German soldiers and their defeat, and the film had harmed a whole generation of Germans. To use modern parlance, it was “disinformation”, and the country of Germany had been “offended”.
In August, 1931, the president of Universal Pictures, Carl Laemmle, out of fear of losing business in such a large market of Germany, travelled to Berlin with a heavily edited version of the film to be approved by German Foreign Office. Germany agreed to a general release of the film in their country, if Laemmle agreed to release that version of the film worldwide, which he did.
Throughout the 1930’s, many Hollywood films such as The Way Back, a sequel to All Quiet on the Western Front, and The Three Comrades, were likewise edited, sanitizing negative depictions of Germany and the Nazis. Other films, such as, Give Us This Night and The General Died at Dawn were banned because they had a Jewish Director and a Jewish Composer.
In 1933, screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz‚ Academy Award winner for Citizen Kane, penned a script called, The Mad Dog in Europe, which accurately depicted Germany’s treatment of the present-day Jewish population. German diplomat Georg Gyssling, alerted the Hays Office and the Anti-defamation League about this negative German and Nazi script, and the picture was never made. Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM said, "We have interests in Germany; I represent the picture industry here in Hollywood; we have exchanges there; we have terrific income in Germany and, as far as I am concerned, this picture will never be made." Imagine if that film had been made, and was released worldwide. And the rest of the world saw what Hitler and the Nazis were doing way back in 1933. Maybe, the European countries would not have appeased Hitler the way they did, maybe they would have stood up to Hitler sooner, and maybe millions of lives would have been saved. Censorship leads to death and destruction.
Something very similar is happening in Hollywood and the Entertainment industry today. China is heavily involved in censoring and altering content of American made movies. China is the largest movie going country in the world next to the United States, and Hollywood has a vested financial interest to produce movies China approves of, not the Chinese public, but the Chinese government. Every film released in China must be approved by the Central Propaganda Department, the Ministry of State Security, the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, the Ministry of Public Security, the State Bureau of Religious Affairs, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Movies such as, Top Gun: Maverick, Red Dawn, Doctor Strange, Looper, Gravity,Iron Man 3, World War Z, Bohemian Rhapsody, all have had content, storylines, or characters changed to sanitize negative Chinese sentiment, promote China’s image, or remove something or someone the Chinese Communist Party disapproves of. The changes are not just for the Chinese market. The changes are made for the entire world. To a real extent, Hollywood has become a propaganda arm of the CCP.
In June 2020, Richard Gere testifying before the US Senate said, “the combination of Chinese censorship, coupled with American film studios’ desire to access China’s market, can lead to self-censorship and overlooking social issues that great American films once addressed.”
In July of 2020, Attorney General William Barr said, “Hollywood now regularly censors its own movies to appease the Chinese Communist Party… Many more scripts never see the light of day because writers and producers know not to test the limits. Chinese government censors don’t need to say a word because Hollywood is doing their work for them. This is a massive propaganda coup for the Chinese Communist Party.”
We are more likely to see hard criticism of the American government in a Hollywood movie than we are to see that of the Chinese government. Hollywood can bash President Trump, but they are forbidden to say a negative word about President Xi. No one in Hollywood would consider making a movie about the plight of the activists in the Free Hong Kong movement, or accurately depict the torture and murders in the Uighur concentration camps in Xinjiang, or expose children working in sweatshops, or the horrors of slave labor in China. These would all make very compelling stories, but any movie house or production company that made any of those movies would be shut down and quickly out of business. Just as Lewis Mayer did not want to expose Hitler for fear of losing money, no one in Hollywood would risk their livelihood to expose the horrors of China.
How long are we going to continue to appease China and President Xi like we did with Hitler because we want access to their market? Will it take a holocaust-level atrocity to emerge to wake us up? Are we ever going to learn the lesson of censorship? The censors are the evil people, not the people being censored.
As we are seeing in the tech industry, with the widespread censorship by Twitter, Facebook, Google and Amazon of Conservative points of view. Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos are acting like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, and President Xi, banning people and censoring thoughts they disapprove of. This will only have a bad outcome in the real world. It always does.
The rat hides in the darkness. The cockroach scurries when you flip on the light. And evil people censor. Evil people love the darkness, and they hate the light. Evil people want the good people in the dark with them. That’s the only way evil succeeds and evil survives is in the darkness, and censorship is the darkness.