Hollywood Is Beijing’s Lap Dog

Major studios bow to the censorship and pro-CCP messaging as they aid and abet China’s culture war against the US
By James Gorrie
James Gorrie
James Gorrie
James R. Gorrie is the author of “The China Crisis” (Wiley, 2013) and writes on his blog, TheBananaRepublican.com. He is based in Southern California.
January 31, 2023Updated: February 6, 2023


With Oscar nominations released for 2023 recently, one may look forward to Hollywood’s grandest moments of the year. But the sad truth is that Tinsel Town isn’t what it used to be, which was no great moral paragon, for sure. But what it has become is even worse than what it was before.

Bowing to the China Market

If Hollywood had a spine, it would be made of money. After all, the film industry has always been about money and power. Filmmakers, writers, and actors have always been at the mercy of a cluster of people at the top in Hollywood who decided which actor or which film would get the opportunity to make money at the box office.

That’s still the case, but the only difference now is that those powerbrokers are from Beijing rather than Beverly Hills, and it’s not just about money anymore. Yes, the old adage “money is power” still applies in La-La Land, and the studios will do anything for it, including selling out their country and serving the largest slave state on the planet.

Indoctrination Through Culture

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is no longer a stranger to Hollywood. In fact, you could say much of Hollywood is now owned or heavily influenced by the CCP. Just as in China, the CCP aims to gain control over the cultural narrative in American society. That includes political and academic institutions and social media, of course; but it also applies to Hollywood’s content.

Epoch Times Photo
A billboard along Hollywood’s famed Sunset Strip from the Center for American Security as part of its “China Owns US” campaign in Hollywood, Calif., on Aug. 29, 2016. The billboard highlights communist China’s increasing influence over the U.S. movie industry, specifically AMC Entertainment, described as China’s red puppet, following its 2012 sale to Chinese firm Dalian Wanda, closely aligned with the Chinese Communist Party, for $2.6 billion and control of 4,960 screens nationwide. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

The very bad news is that they’ve got it. Now, rather than simply answering to public demands for entertainment and garnering financial success in the process, much of Hollywood now answers to the CCP, whose censors determine which movies get made and the messages they send into Americans’ minds.

Why is that so important?

The answer is simple but very powerful. Beijing understands that cultural messaging shapes minds, both young and old, and drives the collective cultural view of history, as well as the present. Therefore, by seizing control of the culture, and in particular movies, the CCP is shaping U.S. political outlook and, ultimately, U.S. political policy.

The deep impact of culture on people’s political outlook has been known and understood by the left for a very long time. Film has been used as propaganda and indoctrination since World War I and was used extensively by totalitarian Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. Of course, the idea of using stories to convey cultural values and, by extension, shape a nation’s thinking has ancient roots. The Holy Bible (both Old and New Testaments) is a prime example. The Founders of America relied upon biblical precepts when they wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The ancient Greeks had Homer’s “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey,” Thucydides’s “History of the Peloponnesian War,” and many other works that created, shaped, and supported the Greek way of looking at life, history, and their place in the world.

There are many such examples of this throughout history, and American films have played a significant and often positive role over the past century, too. But of course, traditional and positive messaging that portrayed free America as good and communist totalitarianism as evil has all but disappeared as the Chinese regime’s influence has grown.

Communist Financing and Film Rescue

The CCP’s power over Hollywood began in the early 2000s. The Chinese market was enticing to Hollywood studios and producers, but the regime in Beijing would only allow 34 foreign movies to be shown per year.

Predictably, the studios bent over backward to court the Chinese leadership for not just access to the Chinese market but for financing as well. Using the latter would help with the former, the thinking went from then and continues to this day. In fact, the Chinese market is often the difference between an expensive Hollywood movie that flops in the U.S. market and becoming a profitable movie over there.

Epoch Times Photo
Richard Gere presents Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng with the Tom Lantos Human Rights Prize in Washington, on Jan. 29, 2013. ( Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

The relationship between the CCP and Hollywood studios has deepened significantly over the past two decades. In the early days, CCP censors would cut out parts of movies, create suitable Chinese versions, or ban them altogether if they crossed the messaging line. Later, they would take control of which actors would work. Just ask Richard Gere, the poster child for getting on the wrong side of the CCP. His outspoken support for the Dalai Lama and Tibet crashed his acting career.

Chinese censors would also be on set, overseeing a production; changing dialogue, plots, and characters; or even eliminating the “existence” of entire peoples, countries, or history, such as references to Tibet, Taiwan, or Tiananmen Square.

‘Free Thinking,’ Woke Hollywood Running Dogs of Communists

True to form, the American movie studios are happy to play along, especially since the Chinese film market officially surpassed North America’s as the world’s biggest box office in 2020. Today, Hollywood will do whatever is required to keep their Beijing bosses happy. In fact, the studios have become so Pavlovian in their fealty to Beijing that they no longer require CCP censorship; they censor themselves by making movies that will please the CCP. If the so-called Hollywood movers and shakers somehow offend or are rebuked by Beijing, they grovel through apologies and promise to do better.

The big danger is that with plenty of money behind them, the CCP doesn’t need to make a profit the way the studios do. They’re more interested in global domination than box office receipts. Using amoral studios to shape the American cultural landscape to their liking is a big part of that objective.

This reality also means that China will continue to tighten its grip on Hollywood. In fact, the trenchantly pro-China film industry could be accurately described as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the CCP.

Where’s Ricky Gervais when you need him?

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.