Friday, January 22, 2010


Avatar - even in 2D - reportedly too hot a property for China censors
Patriotic biopic of Confucius to replace blockbuster that draws parallels officials fear may cause unrest, report says.
China is to pull the plug on screenings of Avatar at most cinemas and replace the Golden Globe-winning film with a patriotic biopic on the life of Confucius, according to reports.
Hong Kong's Apple Daily said the state-run China Film Group has ordered cinemas across China to stop showing the 2D version of the film and to show only the 3D edition, amid concerns from China's censors that it could cause unrest. Because there are so few 3D cinemas on the mainland, the order effectively prevents general distribution of the James Cameron blockbuster.
Parallels have reportedly been drawn between the plight of the Na'vi, who face the threat of eviction from their woodland home, and those in China vulnerable to displacement by predatory property developers.
Bloggers are speculating about the toll Avatar could inflict on home-grown films. The Confucius picture is directed by Hu Mei and stars Chow Yun-fat as the sage.
"The Central Publicity Department is said to have issued an order to the media prohibiting it from hyping up Avatar," the newspaper said.
The film opened on 4 January to queues across the country, with Imax cinemas said to be booked for weeks ahead. It was due to run until 28 February, including over Chinese new year. Instead, the reports said, the 2D version will close on 23 January.
According to one reputable blog, the Wuxi Big World Cineplex posted the following notice to its website: "China Film Group Company and the distribution network have given notice that Avatar (all versions) will close immediately on 23 January all across the country! We ask your understanding! Viewers who have purchased tickets for the 23rd and the 24th may obtain a refund from the box office before the 22nd! To satisfy the viewing needs of the audience, the cinema will add midnight showings from the 21st and 22nd. Grab them quickly!"
The posting was later taken down, with the China News Agency, which spoke to the cinema, saying it had been an error. The 2D Avatar was to close on the 23rd but 3D showing would continue.
CEO: Google "committed" to being in China, will change censorship policy
January 22, 2010
Google CEO Eric Schmidt said the company wishes to remain in China but will make changes to its policy of censoring search results in a "reasonably short time," Dow Jones reported. Schmidt said Google is in conversation with the government about the decision but as of today Google's business in China remains unchanged. Last week Google threatened to pull out of the China market following allegations that the Chinese governments had hacked Chinese human-rights activists email accounts. The company also announced it would delay the Chinese launch of two mobile phone models that will use its Android operating system. Google's fourth-quarter results outperformed expectations. In related news, Microsoft announced it has no plans to change its policy of compliance with China's requirement to censor search results.
Google Agrees to Censor Encyclopedia Dramatica Entry in Australia
Google self-censors certain results in countries like France or Germany, and Australia as well. The Sydney Morning Herald writes:
Google has agreed to take down links to a website that promotes racist views of indigenous Australians.
Aboriginal man Steve Hodder-Watt recently discovered the US-based site by searching “Aboriginal and Encyclopedia” in the search engine. (...)
Mr Hodder-Watt then undertook legal action, that resulted in Google acknowledging its legal responsibility to remove the offensive site.
When searching Google Australia for [Aboriginal and Encyclopedia], there will be a disclaimer at the bottom reading “In response to a legal request submitted to Google, we have removed 1 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read more about the request at” The page at Chillig Effects reads:
Google received a complaint about a website that allegedly violates the Australian Anti Discrimination Act. Accordingly, Google removed the website from
The Encyclopedia Dramatica page in question can be seen normally down the middle of the search results when using The page has now been updated to reflect on the current events, suggesting that satire was used (and pointing to a very graphical page for people who are offended by it). Encyclopedia Dramatica is not a serious site, but tries to go for humor and hoaxes. Other races or countries aren’t spared as well; at this encyclopedia, Spain is described to be “Devoid of any culture whatsoever”. Another country’s citizens are called “the human scum of the world”, and so on. Encyclopedia Dramatica also has an article titled “White People”, which starts with “It is widely known that white people are the inferior race.” It goes on to mention that “One good thing about the white race is their ability to blindly follow their leaders in perfect lockstep, however ridiculous the instructions might sound.”
Wikipedia’s entry on this encyclopedia states:
Encyclopædia Dramatica is a satirical open wiki built on MediaWiki software. Launched on December 9, 2004, it satirizes both encyclopedic topics and current events, especially those related to or relevant to Internet culture. The site’s “elaborate trolling culture”, chronicling of Internet trolling, use of content with shock value, and criticism of other Internet communities have all gained media coverage and commentary. It is also associated with the Internet subculture Anonymous. Some of the content on Encyclopædia Dramatica is sexually explicit or disturbing, including uncensored material taken from shock sites.
Is Google now agreeing to censor satirical speech? Wikipedia’s entry on satire explains:
A very common, almost defining feature of satire is its strong vein of irony or sarcasm ... The essential point ... is that “in satire, irony is militant.” This “militant irony” (or sarcasm) often professes to approve (or at least accept as natural) the very things the satirist actually wishes to attack.
Whether the censored page in question fits your definition of satire or successful satire is probably up for debate, but it seems in free societies, authorities don’t take away that judgment from their adult citizens (and this is only about adult citizens, because the site is even gone when you disable SafeSearch). I wouldn’t want a government to tell me what’s funny and what isn’t... I’d rather be offended on my own terms, at least when I switch my search settings to not filter anything. And if I’d be an activist and a page is indeed racist, I hope a search engine wouldn’t pretend the page didn’t exist; rather, I would want to know about it, because then I could know what my opponents are up to, and potentially put up pages arguing against their points.

No comments:

Post a Comment