ORLANDO, Florida — Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) told Breitbart News exclusively that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) spreading cash to Hollywood studios precludes a lot of them from casting CCP-aligned Chinese Communists as the bad guys in movies.
Cotton made the comments in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) here, a sold-out event hosted this weekend by the American Conservative Union (ACU). Cotton argued that back during the Cold War, Hollywood studios regularly cast Soviet Union-aligned Communists as the villain in movies. But in modern times, Hollywood studios are not doing similar casting with regard to CCP-aligned villain characters. That, Cotton said, is at least partly because the CCP is providing cash to Hollywood studios.
“When was the last time you saw a Chinese bad guy in a movie?” Cotton said. “Back in the Cold War, Russian communists were always the bad guys. We would think Chinese communists would provide pretty good fodder for Hollywood, but you never see it.”
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) March 1, 2021
In recent years, Hollywood has re-conceived the roles of Chinese bad guys in order to appease Beijing authorities. Marvel Studios altered the character of “The Mandarin” in Iron Man 3, casting British actor Ben Kingsley in the role that was originally conceived as a Chinese villain.
Cotton noted this practice has now become more pervasive in Hollywood.
“In fact, in Top Gun 2, Tom Cruise had to take the Taiwan flag off of his bomber jacket because the Chinese objected. Why is that? Well, it’s partly because China provides so much money to Hollywood studios. It’s also because Hollywood wants access to the Chinese market,” he said.
Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick is partly financed by China’s Tencent Pictures, which has an investment venture with Skydance Media, the studio founded by David Ellison, the son of Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison.
Tencent and Skydance also partnered on the Hollywood blockbuster Terminator: Dark Fate, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Last month, Cotton unveiled a plan calling for the federal government to ban Chinese investment in the U.S. entertainment industry. The plan also calls on studios to dissolve their Chinese joint ventures.
The senator’s “Beat China” plan outlines his larger effort to disentangle American business from Beijing, focusing on telecommunications, semiconductors, the medical field, and other industries.
“We need to beat this evil empire and consign the Chinese Communists — just like the Bolsheviks — to the ash heap of history,” he said in a speech at the Reagan Institute last month.
In the CPAC exclusive Breitbart News interview, Cotton also hammered the Chinese Communist Party to attempts to influence American universities, colleges, and research institutions through operations like the Confucius Institutes. He criticized President Joe Biden for reversing an order from former President Donald Trump that imposed strict rules on the Confucius Institutes.
“You also see on college campuses one of the very first things that Joe Biden did was reverse Donald Trump’s rule that imposed more scrutiny on the so-called Confucius Institutes on our college campuses, which are really nothing more than espionage fronts or a way to get people hooked on Chinese money and Chinese influence,” Cotton said. “So some of the decisions Joe Biden’s made in the early days are very troubling about China.”
More broadly, Cotton argued, Biden’s early decisions on policy and personnel signal a weakness on China that he considers concerning.
“I am worried about some of the early decisions and actions of the Biden administration and some of their nominees who are soft on China. President Trump, for the first time really, reset America’s foreign policy towards China, recognizing that China was our number one competitor in the world, trying to take our jobs in factories away, trying to intimidate our allies, trying to make China the number one economy and military power,” Cotton told Breitbart News.