Film Features

How China Is Controlling Hollywood

What "Red Dawn" taught us about defeating Chinese invaders–oops, we mean North Korean.

From Trump threatening to ban TikTok in the US to hordes of angry Americans defending their vituperative rhetoric as "free speech," America is in the midst of a "disinformation war."

But while most concern is (rightfully) centered on misinformation about the global pandemic and the upcoming 2020 election, there's another element of our lives that's being tweaked and manipulated in order to change our perception. A recent report from PEN America, a nonprofit organization that "defends and celebrates freedom of expression," documents how Hollywood has censored itself in order to appease the Chinese Communist Party's strict standards.

As the world's second-largest box office market, China has exerted undue influence over casting, plot, setting, and dialogue–according to the report, titled "Made in Hollywood, Censored by Beijing." Lead author of PEN America's report, James Tager, said, "The Chinese Communist party is increasingly shaping what global audiences see. While we are all well aware of the strict controls that China's government maintains over dissent, independent thought and creativity within its own borders, the long arm of Chinese censorship–powered by vast economic incentives–has also reached deep into Hollywood, shaping perceptions, inculcating sensitivities and reshaping the bounds of what can be shown, said and told."

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Music Features

Azealia Banks and the Dangers of the "Angry Black Woman" Trope

After posting cryptic messages on her Instagram story, it's clear that many of Azealia Banks's behaviors were a cry for help.

Content warning: This article contains depictions of suicidal ideation.

Eight years ago, Azealia Banks was positioned to be the next big thing in hip-hop.

The Harlem rapper's debut single, "212," had spread through the Internet like wildfire. Banks was only 20 years old at the time and had just left her record label, XL Recordings, due to creative conflicts. Despite being strapped for cash and admittedly depressed, Banks released "212" as a free download from her website. The unforgettable hip-house track would reinvigorate her tumultuous music career.

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Culture Feature

What World Is Bari Weiss Even Fighting For?

Bari Weiss's resignation letter contains some truth, but it reads hollow.

Bari Weiss

Bari Weiss has unceremoniously left The New York Times after, she said in a letter to its publisher AG Sulzburger, the paper has been taken "under siege" by bullies who deemed much of her work "wrongthink."

In the letter, Weiss claimed that she represented a large swath of America that The Times failed to represent—"voices that would not otherwise appear in your pages," she wrote. "But the lessons that ought to have followed the election—lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned," she continued.

Bari Weiss Bari WeissVanity Fair

Weiss's letter is well-written enough to be extremely convincing, which is unsurprising seeing that she's an opinion writer. On the surface, it reads like a clear-eyed defense of free speech and free press, and it's a called-for denunciation of the distracting annals of cancel culture.

In the context of her op-ed, Weiss's anger seems almost justified—reports of coworkers slandering her on Slack or criticizing her for "writing about the Jews again" seem like cause for a few HR meetings or even a resignation.

And, certainly, Twitter's cancel culture mob can step out of line, fixating on small injustices rather than facing larger problems, ganging up against relatively harmless people.

Then again, the same might be said of all people everywhere. Bari Weiss seems afraid for free speech, but perhaps she should be more afraid for human life.

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