Though James Cameron's "Avatar" has broken Chinese box office records, it seems the Chinese government is not as enamored of lithe, blue aliens as its people — reportedly pulling the U.S. film from over 1,600 screens and replacing it with a $22 million government-funded movie about the philosopher, Confucius. Is the "'Avatar' ban" a simple case of cultural protectionism, or has the film's anti-imperial message alarmed Chinese authorities? (Watch a report about the premiere of "Confucius" in China)
This is a business decision: This action is “pretty much routine,” says Beijing-based consultant David Wolf, quoted in the New York Times. China typically allows Hollywood films to be screened in Chinese cinemas for only ten days, and "Avatar" has already run far longer. The government simply wants to ensure that “Chinese films” get a “fair percentage” of moviegoers' money. This is a “purely commercial decision.”
"China to replace 'Avatar' with 'Confucius' in Many Theaters"
It's typical Chinese censorship: Perhaps, says Mackie Jimbo at The Atlantic, Chinese authorities are worried that "Avatar"'s onscreen rebellion will incite “violence off-screen as well," given the “close parallel” between the plight of Na'vi aliens and the routine suppression China's citizens face. But, by banning a film its people wants to watch and subbing in "state propoganda," China has again shown its disregard for “free markets."
"Why did China kill 'Avatar'?"
China should heed the lessons of "Avatar": Obviously, "Avatar" has “struck a chord with Chinese audiences,” says Huang Hung in China Daily, especially those left homeless by the “forced removal of old neighborhoods." If only the Chinese government could “send a delegation” to "Avatar"'s fictitious planet of Pandora — clearly, “there is something to be learned” there.
"Lessons from Pandora's Ministry of Propaganda"
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