Hollywood powerhouse producer Judd Apatow recently sat down in an interview to boldly state that Hollywood’s desire to bring home major box office wins in China and Saudi Arabia comes at the cost of meaningful and truthful content. That burning desire to do business has kept many powerful stories and truths from being told.
Apatow sat down with MSNBC’s Ari Melber to talk comedy and the industry’s content censorship when catering to international markets. During the “Mavericks with Ari Melber” conversation, “The King of Staten Island” helmer said that people should turn their attention to the “corporate type of censorship” that happens to films when presented in content-strict countries including China, Saudi Arabia and North Korea.
“A lot of these giant corporate entities have business with countries around the world, Saudi Arabia or China, and they’re just not going to criticize them and they’re not going to let their shows criticize them or they’re not going to air documentaries that go deep into truthful areas because they make so much money,” Apatow told the MSNBC host.
Apatow added that such censorship “completely shut(s) down critical content” about important stories including those spotlighting human rights issues in the aforementioned countries. He went on to single out China, noting that the country’s ability to block off investigative documentaries and films criticizing the nation and its leadership warrants concern.
He said that larger content corporations, who may care more about making money, are more likely to reject stories about “human rights abuses in China”, such as those regarding Muslim concentration camps, in the pitch process. In the past, discussions were more about “can we say this joke or not say that joke? I would rather write a movie about someone who escapes from China.”
“No one would buy the pitch,” he said. “Instead of us doing business with China and that leading to China being more free, what has happened is that China has bought our silence with their money.”
Some of said that if China was able to buy our silence, then wasn’t it for sale in the first place? The fact that Hollywood has been chasing China for box office for quite some time didn’t seem to bother many of the Hollywood elite, but now some have finally gotten a conscience or is it those that have nothing to lose by speaking up?
The director voiced the need for movies that shine a light on human rights issues, challenge the actions of elected officials and inform the worldwide audience. Without them, the entertainment market may face consequences far greater than box office losses, he said.
“What is a result of that is that we never wake up our country or the world, through art or satire, that people are being mistreated in our country or other countries and that’s very dangerous,” he said.
Apatow’s comments come after Disney’s “Mulan” faced backlash for filming in the Xinjiang province, where Uighur Muslims have been detained in mass internment camps. U.S. Senator Josh Hawley accused Disney’s movie of “whitewashing the ongoing genocide of Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities during the production of “Mulan”.”
It does leave one to wonder if Apatow was an action director and not comedy, would he be speaking up. Sadly, this is the hypocrisy of Hollywood and why so many are tiring of it. They can be guilty of pure pathological virtue signaling on one hand while then censoring content to make human rights abusers more comfortable with their product. Yes, the town is about making money, but there needs to be a consistency also.