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Cruz Pushes to Block Department of Defense From Helping Studios That Censor Films in China

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  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) plans to introduce legislation that withholds Department of Defense assistance from film studios that censor their movies in China.
  • Many movie studios rely on the DOD for equipment, assets, and advice for the accuracy of their storytelling and productions. 
  • Studios also often delete or edit scenes in their films to appease Chinese censors. China is one of the largest box offices in the world, meaning companies are willing to be flexible to get audiences in the country. 
  • Now, Cruz is saying that “Hollywood has been complicit in China’s censorship and propaganda” for too long and must make a choice between DOD help and box office cash in China. 

What is the SCRIPT Act?

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) plans to introduce legislation that would block film studios that agree to censor their movies in China from receiving assistance from the Department of Defense.

Cruz plans to introduce the bill, which is called the Stopping Censorship, Restoring Integrity, Protecting Talkies Act, or the SCRIPT Act, when Senate sessions resume. Movie studios frequently censor portions of their films for their release in China. Many also receive help from the DOD to gain expert advice or access to equipment so their stories and production can be accurate.

But now, Cruz wants Hollywood to make a choice. 

“For too long, Hollywood has been complicit in China’s censorship and propaganda in the name of bigger profits,” he said in a statement. “The SCRIPT Act will serve as a wakeup call by forcing Hollywood studios to choose between the assistance they need from the American government and the dollars they want from China.”

With 1.4 billion citizens, the Chinese box office is incredibly valuable to studios. According to Box Office Mojo, in 2019 China’s box office brought in $7.9 billion, coming in second only to the United States, which brought in over $11 billion. Before the coronavirus outbreak brought moviegoing to a halt, accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers anticipated that China would surpass the U.S. in 2020.

Because so much money is at stake, studios concede to China on a lot of fronts when it comes to censorship. But Cruz says he wants to “combat China’s growing influence” over American media. 

“From buying media outlets to broadcast propaganda into America to coercing Hollywood studios and sports leagues to self-censor by threatening to cut off access to one of the biggest markets for sports and entertainment in the world, the Chinese Communist Party spends billions and billions of dollars to mislead Americans about China and shape what our citizens see, hear, and think,” he added in his statement.

So far, no major studios have responded to the upcoming legislation.

Chinese Censorship in Film

There is no shortage of content that China aims to restrict when Hollywood brings its blockbusters overseas. Bohemian Rhapsody had to remove scenes that explored Freddie Mercury’s sexuality. Likewise, a brief kiss between two women was cut from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker late last year. Other films where homosexuality is a major plot point, like Brokeback Mountain, have been denied any release in the country.

LGBTQ messaging is not the only topic Chinese theaters want to keep off the big screen. Skyfall only got the green light to screen in the country after it erased scenes where violence against security forces and prostitution in China were depicted. Ten minutes of footage were dropped from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End because China feared one character vilified Chinese people. A sequence in the opening of Mission Impossible III was cut because it depicted underwear hanging out to dry on a clothing line in Shanghai, which censors thought looked negative. Iron Man 3 saw a scene added for its Chinese release, where famous Chinese actors played doctors discussing an operation on the titular hero.

Some movies never see the light of day in the country. The 2011 Red Dawn remake was originally going to center around young fighters resisting an invasion of Chinese soldiers, but distributors had them swap Chinese soldiers for North Korean ones. Even though editors scrambled to digitally replace flags and switch the dialogue over, China still did not screen the movie. They also did not screen Disney’s Christopher Robin because many often make jokes comparing the resemblance of President Xi Jinping to Winnie the Pooh.

Hollywood’s Relationship with the DOD

Still, Hollywood relies on the DOD for many reasons. Their relationship is nearly a century old and the Pentagon even has its own entertainment liaison office. According to the DOD, they work with the film industry “to accurately depict military stories and make sure sensitive information isn’t disclosed.”

The DOD helps films that might need military assets like jets or tanks. They also help films that want to film on location places like Air Force or Naval bases. According to The Independent, 800 feature films have been aided by the DOD over the years, including Iron Man, Transformers and The Terminator. The DOD also extends its hand to television and has assisted 900 small screen titles since 2005.

See what others are saying: (Politico) (The Hill) (Fox News)

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“Dahmer” Series Breaks Netflix Records Amid Backlash For Exploiting Victims’ Stories

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Family members of some of the murderer’s victims say the program is “retraumatizing.”


“Dahmer” Lands Successful Week on Netflix

While criticisms mount against “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” the true crime series broke Netflix’s record as the most-watched first week for a series debut.

According to data provided by the streaming giant, the Evan Peters-led show was watched for over 196 million hours between its release on Sept. 21 and Sept. 25.

“Dahmer” is the newest of several pieces of fiction and media based on the famous serial killer. Created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, the series quickly generated a lot of attention online, primarily from those concerned the show is exploiting a gruesome true story. 

Critics have echoed those fears, giving the show a mixed 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The “Critic’s Consensus” blurb on the site states that while the show is “seemingly self-aware of the peril in glorifying Jeffrey Dahmer” the story still “tilts this horror story into the realm of queasy exploitation.”

Victims’ Families Speak Out

The family of Errol Lindsey, one of Dahmer’s victims, has also spoken out against the series. In a viral tweet, Lindsey’s cousin Eric Perry said his family is “pissed about the show.”

“It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what?” he wrote. “How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?”

In much of the promotion for the series, Netflix claimed it would be told from the perspective of the victims. Perry slammed that narrative, noting that his family was never even contacted by the streamer about the project.

“So when they say they’re doing this ‘with respect to the victims’ or ‘honoring the dignity of the families’, no one contacts them,” he wrote. “My cousins wake up every few months at this point with a bunch of calls and messages and they know there’s another Dahmer show. It’s cruel.”

Lindsey’s sister, Rita Isbell, echoed that claim in an essay she wrote for Insider, noting that Netflix did not notify her of the show, or ask her any questions about her brother. 

She said that watching the show “felt like reliving it all over again.”

“It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then,” she wrote. 

“It’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed,” she continued. 

Obsession With Dahmer

Controversy has also grown from some of the responses to the series, as many viewers have posted fan edits of the show that romanticize Dahmer. Some pair clips of Peters’ Dahmer with his victims to love songs or pop ballads, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of those who do not understand why someone would make content glorifying the killer. 

Others have responded to the show by calling Dahmer “hot” or posting thirst tweets about his mug shot. This has resulted in a backlash of its own. 

“Jeffrey Dahmer molested and murdered people, mostly black men and boys,” one person wrote. “So to see people making edits and thirst traps of him is a little off putting.”

“if I see anyone tweeting thirst tweets about Jeffrey Dahmer I’m immediately unfollowing,” another person said. “That’s so fuckin nasty.”

Concerns that this kind of media results in more people admiring Dahmer are also mounting in Milwaukee, where many of his crimes took place. According to TMZ, the city is considering creating something to honor the victims, but officials fear a physical memorial would turn into a “mecca” for Dahmer’s fans. 

See what others are saying: (Insider) (IndieWire) (Vox)

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YouTube Removes Age Restriction From Nicki Minaj Video After Singer Calls Company a “Bogus Platform”

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Even though her video can now be viewed by all YouTuber users, Minaj made it clear she was upset that the age-gate tanked its view count in the first 24 hours.


Nicki Minaj Vs. YouTube

Nicki Minaj called out YouTube on Monday after the platform age-restricted her new music video for “Likkle Miss Remix” featuring Skeng. 

By age-restricting a video, YouTube blocks users who are under 18 or not logged into a Google account from viewing the content. 

Minaj’s video features close-up shots of people in skimpy outfits twerking, but several videos on YouTube with similar imagery have not been gated. Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” video is available for everyone, as is Minaj’s own “Anaconda” video. 

In a since-deleted Instagram post, Minaj accused YouTube of being inconsistent and playing favorites. 

“They restricted my fucking video but have things a million fucking times worse on their BOGUS FKNG PLATFORM,” she wrote in a post that included a screenshot of YouTube’s age-restriction notice. “This is what they do to keep you from winning while doing ads for another ppl and posting fake fkng stats. Because the same ppl who run YouTube are in bed with a certain record label and mngmnt company.”

Minaj further alleged that YouTube’s actions were done to prevent her from getting a significant number of views in the video’s first 24 hours, which is often the most crucial timeframe for a video’s success. She continued to assert that the Google-owned company has a bias toward certain music labels.

YouTube Walks Back Restriction

“How long have yall been playing the numbers game to lie & pretend ppl r doing ‘good’ when they r not?!?!!” Minaj continued in another post. “How much ad space did these duds purchase to be promoted on my channel in the last 5 years?!??!!!!”

Later on Monday, YouTube removed the restriction from Minaj’s video, per Variety. The company said the content in it did not violate its rules and guidelines. 

While Minaj ended up deleting her Instagram posts calling YouTube out, she made it clear she was still frustrated by the debacle. 

“FUCK THEM DUDS,” she tweeted. “THEY CANT GIVE US BACK OUR FIRST 24 HOURS CAN THEY?!?!!!”

As of Monday afternoon, her video had been viewed over one million times.

See what others are saying: (Variety) (The Independent) (Billboard)

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“Don’t Worry Darling” Tops the Box Office Amid Bad Press

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Audiences are already giving the film higher praise than critics did.


Young Women Flock to “Don’t Worry Darling” 

Weeks of controversies and rumors did not prevent “Don’t Worry Darling” from finding victory at the box office, with the Olivia Wilde-directed thriller debuting at number one over the weekend and raking in $19.2 million. 

Wilde also acted in the mid-century mystery, which starrs Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, and Gemma Chan.

Women led ticket sales for the picture, comprising 66% of the audience, according to several reports. At least partially due to the appeal of Styles, crowds also skewed young, with over half under the age of 25.

Overseas, the film made over $10 million, bringing its total for the weekend to $30 million. That number is especially impressive since the R-rated drama had a budget of $35 million.

“Don’t Worry Darling” had been plagued with weeks of rumors about behind-the-scenes drama leading up to its release. Among other bouts of gossip, many online speculated that Pugh and Wilde had riffs on set, leading to Pugh’s refusal to promote the project. One report alleged the two got into a screaming match, but sources on set denied it. 

Wilde and Shia LeBeouf, who was originally cast in the picture, also got into a public he-said-she-said about whether he quit the film or was fired. 

The drama hit a boiling point during its premiere at the Venice Film Festival when Twitter users circulated a video they claimed showed Styles spiting on Pine, though both parties have denied that allegation. 

A Film Riddled With Rumors 

Furthering the bad press were the bad reviews. Critics largely panned the film, sticking it with a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes. After this first weekend, moviegoers seem to have a more favorable outlook, as it has a 79% audience score as of Monday. 

Jeff Goldstein, the distribution chief for Warner Bros., told the Associated Press that “the background noise” caused by these controversies “had a neutral impact” on its box office haul. The studio released a statement saying it was pleased with the movie’s earnings. 

Some analysts believe that, if anything, the online gossip and fodder may have aided the film’s box office performance.

In a tweet recapping the weekend’s box office, Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore, said the “drama sparked a huge wave of interest.”

See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (Box Office Mojo) (New York Times)

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