The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) blocked the action movie Monster Hunter this week from appearing on several Chinese film review websites and ticketing apps following a backlash against a scene in the film that the Communist Party claimed was offensive.
“Ticket sales are unavailable on local ticketing apps, and comment functions there have been disabled. Despite being a top searched title on the Tao Piaopiao ticketing app Tuesday, its page was half blank, with no poster image or any of the typical key stats, past or present, indicating how many people were interested in or liked the film,” Variety reported on Tuesday.
“The Douban user review platform moved from making comments about ‘Monster Hunter’ unavailable on its website and app over the weekend to removing its page on the film entirely by Tuesday. The Baidu search engine — the Chinese equivalent of Google, which is blocked in the country — lists the film in its database, but not a rating. And it has deleted all comments,” the U.S. entertainment magazine revealed.
The Communist Party continued to censor Monster Hunter‘s online presence on Tuesday despite the film’s producers apologizing for and removing the offending scene from the movie on Sunday. Based on a video game of the same name, Monster Hunter opened in Chinese cinemas on Friday, December 4.
The scene in question depicts a white soldier asking an Asian soldier, played by the Chinese-American rapper and actor MC Jin, “What knees are these?”
“Chi-knees,” Jin’s character replies.
The movie’s Chinese subtitles “changed the hard-to-translate pun to ‘there is gold underneath my knees’ – a reference to a [Chinese] proverb that means men do not kneel or submit easily,” the South China Morning Post (SCMP) explained on Sunday.
Users of the Chinese social media platform Weibo on Saturday cited the line’s remarkably different translation in Mandarin as evidence that the original dialogue was problematic.
“Others also recalled the racist playground slur ‘Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, look at these,’” according to the SCMP, referring to the World War II-era rhyme.
An online backlash against the scene reached a crescendo in China, where all Internet commentary is controlled by the government, on Saturday when Beijing apparently pulled the film from the majority of its theaters nationwide. Observers note that the comments allegedly posted to popular Chinese social media platforms on Saturday including Weibo, which is tightly controlled by the Communist Party, reflect the nationalistic views of the party itself. Others point out that the users claiming to be offended by the pun on Chinese social media are individuals whose views the Communist Party chooses to amplify via the rigorously censored platforms.
The CCP formally denounced the scene through some of its associated social media accounts over the weekend, including “the official accounts of the Communist Youth League and a high-level Communist Party magazine, whose posts decrying the film gave the issue more visibility and clout,” Variety noted on Tuesday.