To please Chinese censors, Hollywood studios have been more than willing to cut potentially controversial or objectionable footage from China releases. The latest victim of this practice: Michael Fassbender kissing himself.
The film Alien: Covenant, which was released in the United States last month, features a romance between two cyborgs, both played by Fassbender. However, after it was released in China last Friday, movie-goers discovered, much to their disappointment, that the touching scene showing the two Fassbenders locking lips had been left on the cutting room floor.
That scene was part of around six minutes of footage that had been cut from the film’s original release. In order to get their films shown in the world’s second biggest box office, Hollywood studios have often complied with the wishes of Chinese censors and made cuts. Typically, this means the removal of the more graphic scenes in R-rated flicks. For instance, before Logan made it onto Chinese screens, 14 minutes of footage was lopped off. In Alien: Covenant’s case this meant that the actual aliens’ screen time was dramatically cut down to only a couple of minutes, disappointing film-goers.
Meanwhile, studios have also been willing to cut out politically objectionable content from films. For example, back in 2015, Sony compromised Adam Sandler’s creative integrity by removing a scene from the movie Pixels in which aliens blast a hole in the Great Wall of China.
While homosexuality was taken off China’s official list of psychiatric disorders in 2001, the government still frequently censors depictions of homosexuality in popular media. Last year, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) introduced a new set of rules banning television shows from depicting “abnormal sexual relations or sexual behavior,” including “homosexuality” or “perversion,” while also taking a popular teen romcom exploring themes of gay romance off the web.
So this is more of a return to form for Chinese censors who, earlier this year, offered no objection to the much-talked-about “gay moment” in Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast remake with People’s Daily even trumpeting this fact on Twitter, tweeting that the movie “requires no guidance for minor audience.”
— People's Daily,China (@PDChina) March 16, 2017
Meanwhile, the lack of aliens and Fassbender-on-Fassbender action doesn’t appear to have hurt the movie at China’s box office too much with Alien: Covenant still taking in $30 million during its opening weekend.
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