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Judd Apatow Criticizes Hollywood Studios for Bowing to Chinese Censors: ‘It Happened Very Slowly and Insidiously’

Producer Judd Apatow poses at the 70th Annual DGA Awards in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., February 3, 2018. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

Filmmaker and comedian Judd Apatow called out decision-makers in Hollywood for kowtowing to China to protect their own financial interests, allowing Beijing to abuse human rights without consequence.

“I think it happened very slowly and insidiously,” Apatow told The New Yorker in an interview published Monday. “You would not see a major film company or studio make a movie that has story lines which are critical of countries with major markets or investors.”

“The result is, there are a million or more Muslims in reeducation camps in China, and you don’t really hear much about it,” he added, referring to the Chinese government’s  detention of roughly one million Uighur Muslims, whose culture Beijing has chosen to suppress in the name of national cohesion.

Apatow also mentioned writer and director Quentin Tarantino’s refusal in October to change the Chinese version of his film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” after China canceled its release due to complaints from the family of Bruce Lee about how the late martial arts star was depicted.

“Quentin Tarantino is successful enough, and has the power and final cut, but very few people are in that position of strength,” Apatow explained. “What you don’t hear about is all of the ideas that get killed at the earliest pitch stage, at all of the studios and networks, because people don’t even want to consider dealing with it.”

China has exerted its influence over American news and entertainment media as well as other mainstays of Western culture as it aims to present a more benevolent image of the country to the rest of the world.

President Xi Jinping has emphasized the necessity to “tell China’s story well.”

In October, some Chinese partners of the NBA pulled their sponsorships after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted and deleted a logo with the phrase, “Fight for Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong,” a reference to the pro-democracy protesters in the China-governed territory. The NBA then released an apologetic statement distancing itself from Morey’s tweet, prompting severe criticism in the U.S.

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