It is one of those strange things that keeps happening despite flying in the face of common sense. Movies that will be seen on pirated DVDs across the nation are banned by Chinese censors for obscure reasons that cannot possibly be true.
The latest is the third installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, which was originally based on a ride at a Disney theme park – an obvious threat to the stability of the nation.
The good folks at the blog Danwei report that the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television may ban the movie from Chinese cinemas because Chow Yun-fat, who plays a Chinese pirate in the movie, has unsightly scars and, well, plays a pirate. According to a poll carried out by the International Herald Leader – which is owned by the Xinhua, the state news agency – Chinese people fall on both sides of the debate. On the whole, 60% or so don’t really feel insulted.
Censors around the world tend to be a flaky lot. An interesting webpage provides an unchecked list of books that have been banned at one point or another. Classics like Ulysses, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn have all gone under the axe at some point and in some place. They are joined by both the Bible and the Quran. And of course US Senator Joseph McCarthy (not exactly a national hero) did his best to keep Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience out of sight.
Chinese sensors are, in many ways, in a class of their own given the wideth and depth of their activities. Pirates does not represent the first time Hollywood has found itself on the barred list. It is unknown whether the movie will, in fact, be banned and, if it is, whether the reason will, in fact, be some made-up scars.
It would be a shame.