Thursday, December 20, 2012

'V For Vendetta' Airs In China, Stunning TV Viewers

'V For Vendetta' Airs In China, Stunning TV Viewers

AP  |  By By LOUISE WATT Posted: 12/20/2012 1:26 am EST  |  Updated: 12/20/2012 4:55 am EST

BEIJING (AP) — Television audiences across China watched an anarchist antihero rebel against a totalitarian government and persuade the people to rule themselves. Soon the Internet was crackling with quotes of "V for Vendetta's" famous line: "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people."

The airing of the movie Friday night on China Central Television stunned viewers and raised hopes that China is loosening censorship.

"V for Vendetta" never appeared in Chinese theaters, but it is unclear whether it was ever banned. An article on the Communist Party's People's Daily website says it was previously prohibited from broadcast, but the spokesman for the agency that approves movies said he was not aware of any ban.

Some commentators and bloggers think the broadcast could be CCTV producers pushing the envelope of censorship, or another sign that the ruling Communist Party's newly installed leader, Xi Jinping, is serious about reform.

"Oh God, CCTV unexpectedly put out 'V for Vendetta.' I had always believed that film was banned in China!" media commentator Shen Chen wrote on the popular Twitter-like Sina Weibo service, where he has over 350,000 followers.

Zhang Ming, a supervisor at a real estate company, asked on Weibo: "For the first time CCTV-6 aired 'V for Vendetta,' what to think, is the reform being deepened?"

The 2005 movie, based on a comic book, is set in an imagined future Britain with a fascist government. The protagonist wears a mask of Guy Fawkes, the 17th-century English rebel who tried to blow up Parliament. The mask has become a revolutionary symbol for young protesters in mostly Western countries, and it also has a cult-like status in China as pirated DVDs are widely available. Some people have used the image of the mask as their profile pictures on Chinese social media sites.

Beijing-based rights activist Hu Jia wrote on Twitter, which is not accessible to most Chinese because of government Internet controls: "This great film couldn't be any more appropriate for our current situation. Dictators, prisons, secret police, media control, riots, getting rid of 'heretics' ... fear, evasion, challenging lies, overcoming fear, resistance, overthrowing tyranny ... China's dictators and its citizens also have this relationship."

China's authoritarian government strictly controls print media, television and radio. Censors also monitor social media sites including Weibo. Programs have to be approved by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, but people with knowledge of the industry say CCTV, the only company with a nationwide broadcast license, is entitled to make its own censorship decisions when showing a foreign movie.

"It is already broadcast. It is no big deal," said a woman who answered the phone at movie channel CCTV-6. "We also didn't anticipate such a big reaction."

The woman, who only gave her surname, Yang, said she would pass on questions to her supervisor, which weren't answered.

The spokesman for the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television said he had noticed the online reaction to the broadcast. "I've not heard of any ban on this movie," Wu Baoan said Thursday.

The film is available on video-on-demand platforms in China, where movie content also needs to be approved by authorities.

A political scientist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who used to work for CCTV said the film might have approval, or it could have been CCTV's own decision to broadcast it.

"Every media outlet knows there is a ceiling above their head," said Liu Shanying. "Sometimes we will work under the ceiling and avoid touching it. But sometimes we have a few brave ones who want to reach that ceiling and even express their discontent over the censor system.

"It is very possible that CCTV decided by itself" to broadcast the film, Liu said. If so, he added, it would have been "due to a gut feeling that China's film censorship will be loosened or reformed."

"V for Vendetta" was released in the United States in 2005 and around the world in 2006. China has a yearly quota on the numbers of foreign movies that can be imported on a revenue share basis, making it tough to get distribution approval. Other movies that failed to reach Chinese screens in 2006 include "Brokeback Mountain" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest." Chinese moviegoers that year were able to see "Mission: Impossible III" with Tom Cruise and "The Painted Veil," which was filmed in China and set in a Chinese village.

Warner Brothers, which produced and distributed "V for Vendetta," declined to comment.

China doesn't have a classification system, so all movies shown at its cinemas are open to adults and children of any age. A filmmaker and Beijing Film Academy professor, Xie Fei, published an open letter on Sina Weibo on Saturday calling for authorities to replace the movie censorship system that dates from the 1950s with a ratings system.

The airing of "V for Vendetta" raised some hopes about possible changes under Xi, who was publicly named China's new leader last month. He has already announced a trimmed-down style of leadership, calling on officials to reduce waste and unnecessary meetings and pomp. His reforms are aimed at pleasing a public long frustrated by local corruption.

State media say they have reduced reports on officials' trips as part of this drive. The official Xinhua News Agency warned this week that media outlets should "learn to play professionally in today's information age as an increasingly picky audience is constantly" putting them under scrutiny.

An American business consultant and author with high-level Chinese contacts said there is no less commitment to one-party rule in China, so any media reforms will only go so far.

"You can't have a totally free media as we would have in the West and still maintain the integrity of a one-party system," said Robert Lawrence Kuhn, who wrote the book "How China's Leaders Think." He said he thinks restrictions are being eased, "but it has to be limited."

The new leadership has to tread carefully, Kuhn said, because in the age of the Internet, talk about reforms won't be forgotten.

"High expectations, if they are not fulfilled, will create a worse situation," he said.


AP researchers Flora Ji and Henry Hou contributed to this report.


  1. Do you LOVE it or do you LOVE it?!!!!! :-) Saw this article this morning and was just feeling this almost giddiness like something so HUGE in terms of major change is SO close now! I visited Germany for an extended trip in 1987, and at that time, the wall there between the two Germany's seemed like it would *never* come down. And yet, a few years later, it was SMASHED away in what felt like overnight. This energy to me feels like a precursor of the same kind of breakthrough. Information flow. Minds and hearts and perspectives opening up. Light shining through. Pretty damned awesome stuff. "V" is also for "Victory!" ;-) - Crow

  2. "You can't have a totally free media as we would have in the West and still maintain the integrity of a one-party system," said Robert Lawrence Kuhn - this comment being somewhat ironic in these times as we are brainwashed by a media oligarchy and live under the illusion of choice when really there are only ever two parties to vote for - not much better than one! Are we awake yet?

    1. Whoa nellie! There's a name from my past! Robert Lawrence Kuhn! He was once a very high ranking minister (I think he was a doctor of neuroscience) in the Worldwide Church of God, the Christian apocalyptic religious sect founded by Herbert W. Armstrong. He was instrumental in founding the AICF foundation which put on a series of fine art concerts at the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena California. Anyone living in Los Angeles during the late 1970s and 1980s would be familiar with the concert series which included a performance by Horowitz and other great artists.

      Kuhn was "disfellowshipped" from the church at the time church was fighting a takeover by the California Attorney General in 1978. Kuhn had been a research aid to Garner Ted Armstrong's TV program, and sat firmly in the liberal arm of ministry. Its has been rumored, but never proven, that Garner Ted was involved in getting the Attorney General involved with seizing church assets (contrary to separation of Church and State in the Constitution). Kuhn had worked with the dissidents involved in this this takeover. Stanley Rader, then chief legal counsel for the church found himself on the opposite side and eventually won the case on Constitutional grounds. An aid to Rader told me privately that the State of California went after the wrong things, they thought there was secret financial transactions between Herbert W Armstrong and Stanley Rader (a very bright lawyer and rumored to be a 32nd degree Freemason). The truth was that while Rader was handsomely paid, it was all very upfront in his contract with the church. What my friend told me the state missed was what Herbert W Armstrong did with the money he got from members. And in that lay the true abuse. The accounting systems of the Worldwide Church of God were air tight and perhaps the first real time cash balance accounting system ever built. I know the guys who designed it. No church member or accounting person could ever embezzle a cent and they knew minute to minute what their cash situation was, they didnt' have to wait for weekend or nightly processing to know as was common at the time in business systems. The money was pilfered at a higher level, that of the office of the treasurer, as they would give the okay for payments on things that should not have been okayed with IRS non-profit organization rules.

      Eventually Kuhn and Rader ended up the same side, this time in a lawsuit against George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg over the Indiana Jones Raiders of the Ark movie. Kuhn and Rader apparently wrote a screen play and novel nearly identical the movie, they sued and won an undisclosed out of court settlement. Below is an excerpt from the WCG dissident paper Ambassador Report about Kuhn/Rader Lawsuit. Rader himself was later disfellowshipped from the WCG by Herbert W Armstrong, allegedly for working with a now non-member Kuhn in the lawsuit (that's what was told to the ministry). The real reason was not that, Rader had refused to sign off on a transfer of a luxurious Orange Grove mansion property to Armstrong's daughter for much less than the property is worth (a violation of federal law) and was fired as a result for doing his fiduciary responsibility. It appears, in hindsight, that Kuhn was perhaps one of the good guys in that whole situation.

    2. Excerpted from: Ambassador Report #16

      Just one week after Stan Rader was released from Huntington Memorial Hospital, he was again making headlines nationwide, this time because of a movie.

      "Raiders of the lost Ark" is one of this summer's most financially successful movies, grossing over $46 million in its first 24 days of release. Its executive producers are George Lucas (who did "Star Wars") and Howard Kazanjian. It was produced by Frank Marshall, directed by Steven Spielberg (who did "Jaws"), with screenplay credits going to Lawrence Kasdan. The original idea for "The Raiders" was said to have come from a collaboration between Philip Kaufman and George Lucas. But now Stanley Rader has come forward and claimed that the idea was originally his and Robert Kuhn's and that Lucas and company stole their idea to make "The Raiders of the lost Ark."

      Rader is now suing (naturally). He describes his suit as "the biggest lawsuit of its kind in motion-picture history" (naturally). The suit alleges willful and malicious breach of contract, misappropriation of a literary title, deprivation of screen credit, and emotional distress. Named as plaintiffs are Stan Rader, Robert Kuhn, Henry Cornwall, and Farland I. Myers, senior vice-president of the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in Hollywood.

      Ironically, not too long ago Kuhn and Rader were at each other's throats. During the California attorney general's investigation of the WCG, Kuhn cooperated extensively with the so-called dissidents who were attempting to remove both Herbert Armstrong and Stanley Rader from church leadership (see chapt. 11 of John Tuit's book). Kuhn was disfellowshipped in 1979 and has not been reinstated in the church since. Yet now Stan Rader and Kuhn are united together in their lawsuit. This, in spite of the church doctrine prohibiting the "yoking together" of the converted and the unconverted in a business proposition and the doctrine prohibiting even social contact with the disfellowshipped. Apparently, these doctrines do not apply when millions of dollars are at stake.

      At a July 8 news conference called by Rader, the CPA-lawyer-evangelist did not attempt to dispel the rumor that he was the principal author of the story in question, but merely admitted that he did have some assistance from "a young archaeologist by the name of Dr. Robert Kuhn." On the other hand, the Rader-Kuhn suit does give Kuhn the primary creative credit for their version of the "Ark" tale. The Pasadena Star-News (July 8) wrote:

      "According to the scenario alleged by the plaintiffs, Kuhn began work more than 10 years ago on 'a fictionalized account of the 20th Century discovery of the lost Ark of the Covenant.' By early 1977, his efforts had yielded a screenplay, in which Rader reputedly was given partial interest in exchange for his promise that he would work to find an outlet for its distribution.

      "In turn, the suit asserts, Rader assigned interests in his share to Cornwall and Myers for their help in marketing the work. Myers allegedly then began discussions of the screenplay with Ben Benjamin, an artists' agent for International Creative Management whose clients include Sir Laurence Olivier, Jacqueline Bisset and Burt Lancaster.

      "After confirming the 'enormous commercial potential' of the work, according to the suit, Benjamin purportedly urged Kuhn to turn the screenplay into a novel because it would give the unknown Kuhn 'greater negotiating strength.' Shortly after receipt of Kuhn's novelization two years later, it is alleged, Benjamin said there was no interest in its development.

    3. "The suit claims that at that time, Lucas, Spielberg or LucasFilm, Ltd., had access to all literary properties submitted to Benjamin and ICM. Those defendants, it asserts, and others later involved with the 'Raiders' film, misappropriated Kuhn's 'ideas, sequences, characterizations, plot elements and subject matter' and are being unjustly enriched at his and the other defendants' expense."

      The defendants have all denied the allegations. Paramount and ICM told the Los Angeles Times the charges are false. Lucas' Los Angeles lawyer, Thomas Pollock, called the allegations "ridiculous." A spokesman for LucasFilm, Ltd., told the Los Angeles Times (July 9, 1981, part 2, p. 1), "We know very well that 'Raiders' is an original story idea by Lucas and Kaufman. There is no doubt in our minds about that If someone came up with an idea independently, that is pure coincidence, but we don't even think they came up with the idea."

      Ben Benjamin - who, incidentally, being an agent would have gotten a substantial percentage of Kuhn's fees had he
      sold Kuhn's screenplay for him - told the Star-News that he did recall seeing a story "outline" once from Kuhn, but never a novel. In denying the lawsuit's allegations, Benjamin further stated that he did not personally know Spielberg or Lucas and that he did not even know what Lucas looked like.
      There is, apparently, some similarity between the movie "Raiders" and Kuhn's screenplay. According to the July 9 Los Angeles Herald Examiner:

      "Allegedly, Kuhn's hero is an American archaeologist, a 40-year-old university professor, who is 'something of a rogue,' and the primary female character is his 'lost love,' whom he hasn't seen for a decade. In 'Raiders,' Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones, a dashing professor of archaeology, who seeks out a former girlfriend, played by Karen Allen, to assist him in his search for the Ark."

      But if newspaper reports are to be believed, it is not this similarity that has Kuhn and Rader upset. It is the admitted differences between the movie and their screenplay. (Plagiarism is not one of the charges in their suit.) According to the Los Angeles Herald Examiner (July 9, p. B3):

      "Charging that the blockbuster adventure movie is spiritually bankrupt, Rader said that if his suit is successful, he will establish a non-profit organization to refurbish the tarnished image of the Ark of the Covenant, the missing chest that according to biblical lore contains the broken tablets of the Ten Commandments....

      "Charging that the hit movie is 'a parody of our material designed primarily to exploit the public at this time,' Rader said that if his suit is successful, 'we feel that a very substantial portion of the profits from the film must be contributed by us to a non-profit organization which will make every effort to undo the damage that this film has done and continues to do to minds of young people everywhere.'

    4. "In their 29-page complaint, the plaintiffs further argued: 'Because (the) defendants have distributed their entertaining but shallow version to a broad segment of the public, plaintiff Kuhn's efforts have been frivolously pre-empted. Because the Ark had indeed been lost in the public's mind as well as in history, the first exposure of the Ark, including the place and manner in which it was found and opened, the use to which it was put and its spiritual overtones, stamps an indelible imprint on undiscriminating minds, a mental image almost impossible to alter.

      "'Any subsequent efforts to present to the public at large a biblically accurate version, such as had been created by plaintiff Kuhn, will be severely impaired,' the complaint continues. 'It is as if plaintiff Kuhn had composed a biblically based choral work (such as a Psalm set to newly composed popular music) and before its premiere, its leitmotiv had been appropriated for a catchy jingle and used to promote the leading candy or soda pop in a national, saturation media blitz.'"

      It is interesting that Rader's suit attempts to link Kuhn's admittedly fictional screenplay to biblical truth. Yet note what the Examiner wrote about Kuhn's plot:

      "As described in the complaint, Kuhn's 'Ark' differs from 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' in several respects: Kuhn's tale was intended as a religiously inspiring story that told of the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem in the '80s, during the midst of the apocalyptic battles pitting Russians and neo-Nazis against a combined army of Israelis, Arabs and Americans. In 'Raiders,' the Ark is unearthed in Egypt in 1936 by an American racing against the Nazis."

      But wait a minute! This is not what Herbert Armstrong teaches! HWA teaches that a united Europe - not Germany and Russia - will war against the Egyptians, Ethiopians, and Libyans, while also conquering the U.S. and Britain. (See "Middle East in Prophecy," reprint #550, 1972, and "Bible Correspondence Course" #36, 1965 for the details.) Russia will be supposedly watching on the sidelines. HWA (and virtually all Christianity) says Christ - not the Old Testament Ark - intervenes to save humanity. The Rader-Kuhn screenplay is supposed to express biblical truth; yet their interpretation of prophecy is very, very different from that of their religious mentor, apostle Herbert Armstrong. It is also very different from that of the vast majority of Christian churches.


    5. In addition, reasonable men cannot help but ask: "If the Rader-Kuhn screenplay is indeed noticeably different than the Lucas movie, as Rader claims it is, what exactly is the legal basis for their claim? Do Lucas and Spielberg not have the right to fictionalize, just a Kuhn and Rader say they have done?"

      Rader's lawsuit and statements clearly imply that the Lucas film sullied his and Kuhn's interpretation of prophecy. Yet, does not the Rader-Kuhn screenplay sully Herbert Armstrong's interpretation of prophecy?

      What is the real reason behind this lawsuit? Significantly, the Examiner wrote:
      "W. Jack Kessler, an attorney for Rader, raised the possibility that Rader might consider a pretrial settlement. (Traditionally movie companies insure themselves against suits claiming copyright infrigement, and often, the merits of the case notwithstanding, an insurance company will propose a pretrial settlement rather than defend the suit in court.)

      "Explaining that a pretrial settlement 'would be just as much vindication in some respects' as winning the suit, Kessler added, 'obviously there will be sequels and an important part of any pretrial settlement might be participation in the sequels."

      In other words, while Rader claims Lucas' movie has "tarnished the image of the Ark of the Covenant" and has caused great harm to many people, his legal associate, Kessler, says they would be quite happy to share in the profits from the movie and its sequels.

      Perhaps the most succinct statement on the lawsuit came from Thomas Pollock, an attorney for Lucas. He said, "Every time you have a successful movie, there'll be people who come forward who claim it's theirs. As far as I'm concerned, they're insects coming out of the woodwork."

  3. Just echoing "Anonymous". I had the same reaction to the "totally free media" comment of Robert Kuhn and wondered why AK didn't do his usual red ink comment showing HIS amusement. Maybe he didn't have time to read it or just wanted to throw his listeners a bone. Anyway, it was highly amusing. Thanks for the post.

    1. I repent in dust and ashes! If my eye had grasped the significance of the Robert Kuhn name when I posted it I would have had a great deal of fun!

      Remember Kuhn claims to have authored Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Ark, and won an out of court Settlement for an undisclosed sum. This man knows his fiction! :)

  4. Free media as in the West?? Who are they kidding the western media is not free cause if it would be they should report real news instead of selected news "chuckle".


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