Friday, February 17, 2017

In an effort to placate China's cultural sensitivities, Hollywood is willing to make all manner of changes to their films

 … in an effort to placate [Chinese] cultural sensitivities, filmmakers have been willing to make all manner of changes to their work
writes Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post,
whether it means removing scenes of laundry air-drying on a Shanghai street from “Mission: Impossible III” (too poor-looking) or excising a stunt when James Bond kills a Chinese security guard in “Skyfall” (too offensive).
Not to mention Kung Fu Panda 2. This echoes the No Pasarán post Hollywood's Offerings Promise Only to Get More Anti-American.

Ann Hornaday 's Washington Post article:
For the past several years, Hollywood and China have been engaged in a wary dance that could be both lucrative or disastrous, depending on what’s at stake. As the Chinese investment sector and middle class have grown, the American film industry has eagerly courted both — as a source of financing, and as a movie-hungry market. With an average growth in box office of 35 percent a year since 2011 — compared with a relatively flat performance in the United States — China has become the new holy grail in putting rear ends in seats.
And there are plenty of seats to be had: China is now building around 26 screens a day to accommodate burgeoning demand in that country, whose population hovers around 1.3 billion. Although the state much prefers indigenous movies — allowing for tighter control of stories, images and social messages — the biggest demand is for mainstream Hollywood blockbusters. After years of severely limiting access to American product, in 2012 China signed a memorandum of understanding with the United States — which had objected to unfair trade practices — agreeing to allow at least 34 non-Chinese movies into the country every year, and allowing their home studios to keep 25 percent of the box office receipts.

The Chinese film industry, owned and controlled by the state, has also bolstered its domestic means of production, with an eye toward making the kinds of slick spectacles it can export to the rest of the world. U.S.-China co-productions are increasingly the order of the day, proving advantageous to Hollywood because they aren’t subject to the 34-movie quota, and to China, which is eager to up its game vis-a-vis production values, prestige and “soft power” relevance.

So far, the relationship has produced some hits and a few notable misses, especially when it comes to the American creative class navigating Chinese state censors who oversee which movies get into the country. No one who wants a piece of the world’s largest market would be stupid enough to alienate their audience by making the villain Chinese; but while few mourn the passing of “yellow peril” stereotypes or equally offensive ethnic cliches, attempts to cater to the Chinese market can veer toward pandering. Movies from “X-Men: Days of Future Past” to “Gravity” to “Iron Man 3” have tweaked content and casting to appeal to Chinese audiences. The science fiction film “Looper” changed an entire plot line to take place in Shanghai when filmmaker Rian Johnson received Chinese funding.

In the case of “Looper,” the Chinese locations and characters wound up looking unforced and organic, even forward-looking. But, in an effort to placate cultural sensitivities, filmmakers have been willing to make all manner of changes to their work, whether it means removing scenes of laundry air-drying on a Shanghai street from “Mission: Impossible III” (too poor-looking) or excising a stunt when James Bond kills a Chinese security guard in “Skyfall” (too offensive). Even more sobering is the fact that films dealing with such subjects as homosexuality, a free press and democratic dissent — think “Brokeback Mountain,” “Spotlight” and “Selma” — never make it past square one with Chinese censors.

As China’s most high-profile domestic production, made in tandem with an American company (Legendary Pictures) and a huge American movie star (Matt Damon), “The Great Wall” has an enormous amount riding on it, financially and symbolically, in terms of China’s global reputation as a cultural player. Two 2016 co-productions offer stark illustrations of what’s at stake: While “Kung Fu Panda 3” was a huge hit, “Warcraft” — which underwent tinkering to make it China-friendly — was a bomb.

 … American filmmakers must maintain a delicate balance between artistic freedom and the Chinese investment and box office revenue they need to survive. Add the backdrop of Trumpian uncertainty, and you have a reminder of why “may you live in interesting times” isn’t considered a blessing, but a curse.
Related: Chinese Film Studios Are the Planet's Largest, Mass-Producing
Films Designed to Build a Positive Image of the Country

Further Inroads into Hollywood for China's Communist Party and Its Censors

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Pro-Trump Speaker Was Ousted from TV Studio for Obama Remarks? That Was News to the Woman in Question Who Never Knew About It Until the Following Day

Via Eric Martin sur NDF, nous avons droit (pour ainsi dire) au droit de réponse de Evelyne Joslain, suite à sa soi-disant éviction de BFM TV:
J’entre en plateau vers 13h30. Les invités entrent et repartent. Les 2 journalistes ne s’arrêtent pas pour autant; leur annonce repasse en boucle : « Trump, le président le plus controversé de l’histoire »… Aussi, lorsqu’après 16h, quelqu’un me fait signe des coulisses que c’est l’heure, je ne m’étonne pas et je pars. On ne me dit absolument rien. Je n’ai pas été « virée », « expulsée » ou « renvoyée » comme un malfaiteur, ainsi que tous les gros titres visent à le faire croire. Je n’ai d’ailleurs jamais été de ma vie renvoyée de nulle part.  Commodément, l’émission a été censurée et n’est plus accessible …

3° Montage et battage médiatique :

Avertie le soir, au milieu des célébrations, je ne prête pas attention. Le lendemain, je découvre les divers articles sur Google. On peut reconstituer assez facilement le piège : dès 17h10, une heure après mon départ, un premier article paraît, de BuzzFeed France, un pseudo organe de presse spécialisé depuis juin 2016 dans les fausses informations et la calomnie des gens de droite, de Trump jusqu’aux personnes les plus humbles. …

4° Interprétation possible :

Le directeur de BFM TV … est-il aux ordres de BuzzFeed ou [de 24 internautes (anonymes)] non-identifiés qui auraient le pouvoir, de l’ombre, de décider qui doit tomber, ou a-t-il voulu se prémunir contre le CSA alors que les propos incriminés n’ont rien d’offensant et sont banals aux Etats-Unis ? Qui obéit à qui et pourquoi ? Voilà les questions que les rédactions, toutes subventionnées, qui ont répété servilement la même histoire mensongère, auraient dû se poser. Voulait-on me donner une leçon ? Selon le texte (toujours comme un malfaiteur), « l’auteure (sic!) n’en était pas à son coup d’essai : déjà, en aout 2016, elle avait dit qu’Hillary Clinton était corrompue » (quel scoop !). Ce qui indique recherches et préparation, j’avais été condamnée avant même mon entrée sur ce plateau.
Lire tout le droit de réponse de Evelyne Joslain sur NDF

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Rape Culture Is Perfectly OK If the Victim Is a Conservative Woman

I’m beginning to think that there might be something to this “rape culture” thing that progressives keep talking about
notes Benny Huang.
Exhibit A is “No Favors,” a recent song by rapper Big Sean featuring Detroit’s most renowned bad boy Eminem. The track is notable for its grisly lyrics including what sounds like Eminem fantasizing about raping conservative pundit Ann Coulter with various household objects.
“And f–k Ann Coulter with a Klan poster/
With a lamp post, door handle, shutter/
A damn bolt cutter, a sandal, a can opener, a candle, rubber/
Piano, a flannel, sucker, some hand soap, butter/
A banjo and manhole cover/
Hand over the mouth and nose smother/
Trample ran over the tramp with the Land Rover/
The band, the Lambo, Hummer and Road Runner/
Go ham donut, or go Rambo, gotta make an example of her/
That’s for Sandra Bland, ho, and Philando.”
It’s bad enough that there are people in this world like Eminem who entertain dark rape fantasies. What’s more disturbing is that the guy who spun these vile lyrics also practiced them for hours before committing them to an audio track that he knew would be heard by millions of people. Worse yet is that no one stopped him—not Big Sean, not the album’s producer, not GOOD Records owner Kanye West, not even the execs at GOOD’s parent company, Universal Music Group.

Kanye and his higher-ups could have tossed that whole track in the garbage if they had wanted to but they didn’t. It’s not as if musicians have absolute artistic license in the studio. As long as the record company is producing and promoting the final product, performers are little more than glorified employees. So how did “No Favors” ever see the lights of day? Eminem’s accomplices must have been at least ambivalent toward, if not supportive of, the heinous lyrics.

Other than a few conservative websites, I don’t know of any media outlet that has made a fuss about Eminem’s ode to sexual violence. Prominent feminist groups don’t seem upset. What’s that thing they always say at their “Take Back the Night” rallies? “Silence is complicity?” Yeah, that’s it.

Are we all pretty blasé about rape now? Hardly. In other contexts—contexts that don’t involve conservative women—our society is actually hypersensitive about rape. That may sound shocking because it implies that there’s such thing as excessive zealotry in the campaign to eradicate rape. Well, guess what? There is. There’s something very wrong with people who throw themselves into fits of hysteria over every accusation, even the false ones, or people who refuse to believe that false accusations even exist. Think of the Duke Lacrosse case, the mattress girl case, the UVA case, the Tawana Brawley case, etc. Calling them “hypersensitive” is the nicest word I can think of.

Given this hypersensitivity, it’s difficult to make the case that our society just doesn’t care about rape. We’re so adamant in our opposition that we’ve sought to eliminate rape at its root—namely, by obliterating “rape culture,” the entire milieu that encourages and excuses sexual violence. This is where things get tricky because we don’t all necessarily agree on what constitutes rape culture. To some people—let’s just call them feminists—rape culture is a term that means anything they don’t like. It’s no coincidence that traditionalism, gender roles, and sexual mores—three things that feminism have been trying to vanquish since at least the 1970s—are now considered key elements of rape culture. If you stick up for these much maligned concepts you may be called on the carpet for enabling sexual violence. It’s a silencing tactic, and an awfully effective one at that.

The endless search for hidden rape culture has become something of a parlor game in which the person who spots the most rape culture in the most places “wins.” Some people find rape culture in some very unexpected places including the 1944 Christmas duet “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” The song features a man trying to persuade a woman to snuggle a little longer with him by the fire instead of braving the driving snow outside. He’s probably trying to convince her to sleep with him, though that’s left unstated. The fact that the woman in the song seems to want to stay the night and only worries about what people will think of her if she does is not supposed to matter.

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” stirred up a lot of debate this past December, enough for the reliably liberal website Vox to cover the controversy. Vox quoted Stephen Deusner of Salon calling the Christmas classic “a date rape anthem.”

As far as I can tell “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” has sparked more controversy than “No Favors.” Neither Vox nor Salon has, to my knowledge, covered the “No Favors” controversy, which is probably because a controversy is not a controversy until the media decide to cover it. When the media shrug off actual episodes of blatant, undeniable rape culture we tend not to be aware of their existence.

And that’s where we are today—a man asking his date to stay a little longer by the fire generates more headlines than a man who wants to “make an example” out of a woman by penetrating her with various household objects. I wonder why that might be? I can think of several reasons. There’s the fact that “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is an old song that harkens back to an era that liberals love to hate but don’t really understand. There’s also the fact that “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is about an anonymous woman whereas “No Favors” is about Ann Coulter—and raping her isn’t really such a big deal, is it?

Not to people who matter—media figures, music moguls and the like. That’s why I say that rape culture is very real, though generally concentrated in liberal enclaves. That does not mean that red state America is some kind of rape-free paradise. What it does mean is that wherever the Left’s values dominate there is bound to be a winking, nodding acceptance toward casual rape talk aimed at conservative women.

Don’t believe me? I’ll provide two examples though there are certainly more.

Two celebrities of at least some notoriety independently expressed their desire to see former Governor Sarah Palin raped by black men. In 2008, the very unfunny comedienne Sandra Bernhard said that Palin would be “gang-raped” by “big, black brothers” if she set foot in Manhattan. Bernhard clearly relished the thought, probably because she is a homosexual and frustrated that she can’t get Sarah Palin in the sack.

More recently, female rapper Azealia Banks tweeted that she wanted to see Palin raped by “some of the biggest, burliest, blackest Negroes.” Banks, by the way, is also a homosexual and probably as mad as a wet cat that she isn’t Palin’s type. In another tweet, Banks stated: “Sarah Palin needs to have her hair shaved off to a buzz cut, get headf—cked by a big veiny, ashy, black c—k then be locked in a cupboard.” At the time, Banks was upset with Palin because of some Fake News™ she’d read concerning the former Alaska governor’s take on slavery. A fabricated quote attributed to Palin was “Even the French understand that slavery wasn’t our fault because the Negroes liked it.” Palin never said that, of course, but because Azealia Banks is paranoid of racism and because her IQ is lower than whale dung, she found the quote credible. Then she wished rape upon another woman.

“In my honest defense, I was completely kidding,” Banks later wrote. “I happen to have a really crass, New-York-City sense of humor, and regularly make silly jokes in attempts make light of situations which make me uncomfortable.”

Yeah! So chill. It was just a “silly joke.” It’s a New York Thing, you wouldn’t understand. Believe it or not, I almost believe her. Palin is despised in New York City, just as she is despised in most urban centers. If I walked into a Manhattan pub and started mouthing off about Sarah Palin getting raped, would anyone stop me? How many would egg me on? Plenty, I’d wager.

It’s hard to deny that America has a conflicted, almost schizophrenic attitude toward rape. This attitude may not be on display in the sleepy, conservative towns where most conservatives live, but it certainly exists on college campuses, in big cities, and in the entertainment industry. On the one hand, people fall all over each other to condemn alleged rapes as swiftly and severely as possible, often not caring if a particular accusation is even true. And on the other hand, people don’t really care about the obvious glorification of rape as an instrument of revenge when the object happens to be conservative woman.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Bumper Stickers — An Entirely American Phenomenon

Even without an election, the Americans do rather like a bumper sticker
writes a bemused David Millward in the Daily Telegraph.
They can be anything from a proud parent letting everyone know their child is an “honor student” – whatever that is – to one with a child serving in the military.

It all seemed rather alien to me when I arrived in the US a couple of years ago. British motorists are rather more reserved. There may be the odd football sticker, or a window sticker saying 'baby on board', but that is about it.

Perhaps we Brits are too buttoned up. But telling fellow road users that one is a woolly liberal , tree hugger or gun-toting fundamentalist Christian conservative does appear to be a peculiar manifestation of the American character.
By virtue of the language in his observations, David Millward proceeds to demonstrate rather conclusively that he leans to the left…