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Woke Disney Faces Backlash in China Over Little Mermaid

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Woke Disney Faces Backlash in China Over Little Mermaid

China the world’s second-largest economy has emerged as one of the most important venues for big-budget Hollywood films, but a racially charged response against Disney’s The Little Mermaid is just the most recent reminder of the price film studios can pay if they upset Chinese sensibilities.

Chinese state media and netizens have condemned the casting of Black actress Halle Bailey as Princess Ariel, echoing some Americans’ outrage that the Atlanta-born actress does not resemble the light-skinned character from the 1989 animated film or the 1837 fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen.

The Global Times, in China known for its nationalistic coverage, accused Disney of making “classic tales into’sacrificial lambs’ for wokeness” by casting non-white performers in classic tales in an op-ed last month.

“When the beautiful stories that have accompanied countless children’s childhoods become arenas for racial conflict, they lose their meaning and become devoid of romance and fantasy, replaced by arguments about skin colour,” said the tabloid, insisting that such casting controversies were driven by “lazy and irresponsible storytelling,” rather than racism.

The backlash, many of it explicitly racist, has also played out online among regular Chinese filmgoers.

Some commenters have attacked Bailey’s appearance and her Black face traits on social media platforms such as Sina Weibo.

Race portrayed in Hollywood films

Other Chinese internet reviewers were more enthusiastic, with one poster on the film site Mayoan noting that Bailey’s appearance made little difference to youngsters and that she successfully embodied Princess Ariel’s most important character characteristic – a brave spirit.

While China does not have the same racial history or politics as the United States, Chinese-born YouTuber Yao Zhang, who follows Chinese and Taiwanese news and culture from Canada, believes that consumers are nevertheless sensitive to how race is portrayed in Hollywood films.

According to Zhang, traditional Chinese beauty standards highlight pale complexion and large round eyes, and some viewers – as well as government officials – want to see Chinese values mirrored on the television.

“There is no correct way to look at [the film] in the United States,” Zhang told Al Jazeera. “However, in China, there is only one correct way to understand it.”

Zhang compared the backlash to the public’s reaction to supermodel Lu Yan, whose small eyes and high cheekbones were deemed unattractive in China but earned her renown in the West – despite some Chinese bloggers claiming Lu’s success was a Western ploy to make China look bad by elevating “ugly” women.

The Little Mermaid has performed poorly at the Chinese box office, collecting only $3.6 million in the ten days following its May 26 debut, according to Artisan Gateway, an international film consultant.

According to the advise, live-action remakes of Disney classics regularly gross between $40 million and $85 million in China.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 and Fast and Furious X, both released in May, have grossed approximately $80 million and $120 million, respectively, since their debuts.

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Little Mermaid latest Disney Flop in China

The failure of The Little Mermaid is only the latest illustration of how tough it has become for Hollywood to negotiate one of the world’s largest and most lucrative theatrical film markets, which used to have an insatiable demand for American pictures.

China is extremely competitive since Chinese censors only allow a few dozen foreign films into the country each year. As of May, just 39 foreign films had been released in 2023, including 18 Hollywood titles. Unlike in previous decades, Hollywood now faces competition from a strong domestic film sector that creates its own blockbusters.

Studios are also faced with the option of accepting alterations to fulfill Chinese censors’ demands or risk being blackballed from the market.

Sony notoriously revised the 2012 remake of Red Dawn in post-production to incorporate a North Korean invasion of the United States rather than a Chinese invasion, costing the company millions of dollars.

In 2016, a screenwriter for the Marvel action film Doctor Strange indicated that the character the Ancient One’s origins had been changed from Tibetan to European in order to avoid upsetting China.

Spiderman: No Way Home, one of the highest-grossing pictures of all time, was denied a 2021 release in China as Marvel refused to edit the film’s “patriotic” ending filmed at New York’s Statue of Liberty, according to the news site Puck, costing the studio an estimated $170 million to $340 million in missed sales.

Angering Chinese filmgoers can have a knock-on impact on other films or stars, perhaps dampening Hollywood’s zest for defying Chinese censors.

Anti woke china

Push back from China

According to Chris Fenton, a former Hollywood executive and author of Feeding the Dragon: Inside the Trillion Dollar Dilemma Facing Hollywood, the NBA, and American Business, Disney’s 1998 animated film Mulan was famously delayed in China due to the studio’s backing of another film, Kundun, about the Dalai Lama.

“They blackball everyone involved in a particular film, including the studio involved,” Fenton explained to Al Jazeera.

“Sometimes the blacklisting is only temporary, as with Sony following Red Dawn or Disney following Kundun.” Sometimes it’s nearly permanent, as with [Dalai Lama supporter] Richard Gere or possibly Brad Pitt – though we never know for sure if actors are banned or not. There is only evidence that the films in which they are involved are never approved.”

Hollywood’s recent push back against the trend will only be effective as long as the dollars and cents stack up, because China is simply too large a market to ignore, according to Fenton.

“Money drives doing the right thing or doing the wrong thing, mostly, but the good news is that doing the right thing can be more profitable now,” he said.

Geoff Thomas is a seasoned staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. With his sharp writing skills and deep understanding of SEO, he consistently delivers high-quality, engaging content that resonates with readers. Thomas' articles are well-researched, informative, and written in a clear, concise style that keeps audiences hooked. His ability to craft compelling narratives while seamlessly incorporating relevant keywords has made him a valuable asset to the VORNews team.

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Donald Sutherland, The Towering Actor Whose Career Spanned ‘M.A.S.H.’ To ‘Hunger Games,’ Dies At 88

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NEW YORK — Donald Sutherland, a famous film and television actor whose work ranged from “M.A.S.H.” to “The Hunger Games,” has died. He was 88.

The actor’s son, Kiefer Sutherland, confirmed his father’s death Thursday. No other information was immediately provided.

“I personally think one of the most important actors in the history of film,” Kiefer Sutherland stated on X. “Never intimidated by a part, whether good, awful, or ugly. He loved what he did and did what he loved, and you can’t ask for more.”

The tall and gaunt Canadian actor with a charming or wicked grin was recognized for oddball characters like Hawkeye Pierce in Robert Altman’s “M.A.S.H.,” the hippy tank commander in “Kelly’s Heroes,” and the stoned professor in “Animal House.”

Before starting a long career as a respected character actor, Sutherland exemplified 1970s cinema’s unconventional, anti-establishment style.

Over the years, Sutherland demonstrated his versatility in more conventional but unconventional roles like Robert Redford’s “Ordinary People” and Oliver Stone’s “JFK.” More recently, he appeared in the “Hunger Games” movies. He never retired and worked frequently till his death. “Made Up, But Still True,” a memoir, was scheduled to be released in November.

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Sutherland | AP News Image

Donald Sutherland, The Towering Actor Whose Career Spanned ‘M.A.S.H.’ To ‘Hunger Games,’ Dies At 88

“I enjoy working. In 1998, Sutherland told Charlie Rose, “I passionately love to work.” “I adore seeing my hand fit into the glove of another figure. I get a great sense of freedom; time seems to halt. I’m not as crazy as I used to be, but I’m still slightly insane.”

Donald McNichol Sutherland was born in St. John, New Brunswick, the son of a salesperson and a math teacher. He was up in Nova Scotia and was a disc jockey with his radio station by age 14.

“When I was 13 or 14, I really thought everything I felt was wrong and dangerous, and that God was going to kill me for it,” said Sutherland to The New York Times in 1981. “My father always said, ‘Keep your mouth shut, Donnie, and maybe people will think you have character.'”

Sutherland began as an engineering student at the University of Toronto but switched to English and began acting in school plays. While studying in Toronto, he met an aspiring actress named Lois Hardwick. They married in 1959 and divorced seven years later.

Sutherland graduated in 1956 and studied acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. Sutherland began performing in West End shows and on British television. He bounced around after moving to Los Angeles until a series of war films altered his path.

His first American picture was “The Dirty Dozen” (1967), in which he played Vernon Pinkley, an officer mimicking psychotic. In 1970, the World War II drama “Kelly’s Heroes” and “M.A.S.H.,” an acclaimed smash hit, were released, catapulting Sutherland to fame.

“There is more challenge in character roles,” Sutherland told The Washington Post in 1970. “There is longevity. A good character actor can portray a distinct face in each film without boring the audience.”

If Sutherland had gotten his way, Altman would have been sacked from “M.A.S.H.” He and co-star Elliott Gould were dissatisfied with the director’s unconventional, improvisational approach and lobbied to have him changed. But the picture outperformed everyone’s expectations, and Sutherland personally resonated with its anti-war message. Sutherland, actress Jane Fonda, and others created the Free Theater Associates in 1971 after being outspokenly opposed to the Vietnam War. In 1973, they performed in venues near military facilities in Southeast Asia after being banned by the Army for their political ideas.

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Sutherland | AP News Image

Donald Sutherland, The Towering Actor Whose Career Spanned ‘M.A.S.H.’ To ‘Hunger Games,’ Dies At 88

Sutherland’s career as a leading man peaked in the 1970s, when he starred in pictures by the greatest directors of the day, even if they didn’t always perform their best work with him. Sutherland, who repeatedly stated that he regarded himself at the service of a director’s vision, collaborated with Federico Fellini (1976’s “Fellini’s Casanova”), Bernardo Bertolucci (1976’s “1900”), Claude Chabrol (1978’s “Blood Relatives”), and John Schlesinger (1975’s “The Day of the Locust”).

One of his most memorable performances was as a detective in Alan Pakula’s “Klute” (1971). He met Fonda while filming “Klute,” they had a three-year relationship that began after his second marriage to actor Shirley Douglas ended. He married Douglas in 1966 and divorced in 1971.

In 1966, Sutherland and Douglas welcomed twins Rachel and Kiefer, named after Warren Kiefer, the writer of Sutherland’s first film, “Castle of the Living Dead.”

In 1974, the actor began living with actress Francine Racette, with whom he remained ever since. They had three children: Roeg, born in 1974 and named after filmmaker Nicolas Roeg (“Don’t Look Now”); Rossif, born in 1978 and named after director Frederick Rossif; and Angus Redford, born in 1979 and named after Robert Redford.

To some astonishment, Redford cast Sutherland as the father in his directorial debut, 1980’s “Ordinary People.” Redford’s drama about a gorgeous suburban family shattered by tragedy received four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

The academy neglected Sutherland for the majority of his career. He was never nominated, but he received an honorary Oscar in 2017. He did, however, win an Emmy in 1995 for the television film “Citizen X” and was nominated for seven Golden Globes (including for his roles in “M.A.S.H.” and “Ordinary People”), winning two — again for “Citizen X” and for the 2003 television film “Path to War.”

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Sutherland | AP News Image

Donald Sutherland, The Towering Actor Whose Career Spanned ‘M.A.S.H.’ To ‘Hunger Games,’ Dies At 88

“Ordinary People” also signaled a transition in Sutherland’s career toward more mature and, in some cases, less eccentric characters.

However, his New York stage debut in 1981 was a disaster. He played Humbert Humbert in Edward Albee’s version of Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita,” which received harsh reviews and closed after only a dozen performances.

A slump ensued in the 1980s, owing to flops such as the 1981 satire “Gas” and the 1984 comedy “Crackers.”

Sutherland, however, persisted in his efforts. He has a brief but noteworthy appearance in Oliver Stone’s film “JFK” (1991). He returned to play a grandpa for Redford in his 1993 film “Six Degrees of Separation.” He played Bill Bowerman, a track coach, in the 1998 film Without Limits.

Sutherland has worked more on television over the last decade, most notably in HBO’s “Path to War,” when he played President Lyndon Johnson’s Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford. It was an appropriate, albeit ironic, bookend to a career began by “M.A.S.H.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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After Drake Battle, Kendrick Lamar Turns Victory Lap Concert Into LA Unity Celebration

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Kendrick Lamar | AP news Image

Inglewood, California – Kendrick Lamar’s Juneteenth “Pop Out” event at the Forum became an emotional live-streamed celebration of Los Angeles unity rather than simply taking a victory lap after defeating fellow rap artist Drake.

Lamar organized a three-hour event that included a combination of up-and-coming LA rappers and stars such as Tyler, The Creator, Steve Lacy, and YG. When it came to his turn to take the stage, the 37-year-old rapper pushed through a set with Black Hippy collaborators Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and Jay Rock, performing his Drake diss songs “Euphoria” and “6:16 in LA,” before being joined on stage by Dr. Dre.

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Lamar | Billboard

After Drake Battle, Kendrick Lamar Turns Victory Lap Concert Into LA Unity Celebration

The two West Coast titans played “Still D.R.E.” and “California Love” before Dre called for silence to calm the raging crowd. It was a misdirect. He then gave the “Sixth Sense” phrase that opens Lamar’s smash hit “Not Like Us”: “I see dead people.”

A crowd of 17,000 people, including The Weeknd, LeBron James, Ayo Edebiri, and Rick Ross, rapped along to every word of the biting-but-jubilant DJ Mustard track, which Lamar resumed twice after the first verse and repeated four times in total.

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Lamar | BBC Image

After Drake Battle, Kendrick Lamar Turns Victory Lap Concert Into LA Unity Celebration

NBA stars Russell Westbrook and DeMar DeRozan, Mustard, rapper Roddy Ricch, and even a juvenile dance group led by krumping inventor Tommy the Clown were shuffling, frolicking, dancing, and twirling around him as Lamar approached the stage in a red sweatshirt.

Lamar delighted in the situation, saying, “Y’all ain’t gonna let nobody disrespect the West Coast.” “You’re not going to let anyone imitate our legends, huh,” he asked, referring to Drake’s usage of an AI program to mimic 2Pac’s voice on one of his diss tracks.

But Lamar had bigger plans, inviting select men and women to join him onstage for a group portrait.

“Let the world see this,” he urged. “For all of us to be on this stage together, unity, from the East side… LA, Crips, Bloods, Piru— this… is great, dude. We put this together exclusively for you guys.

“This… has nothing to do with any song at this time, nothing to do with any back-and-forth albums; it has everything to do with this particular moment. That’s what this… was about bringing us all together.

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Lamar | Variety Image

After Drake Battle, Kendrick Lamar Turns Victory Lap Concert Into LA Unity Celebration

After the final song, Lamar exited, stating, “I promise you, this won’t be the last of us.” The slicing horns of the “Not Like Us” instrument rang out again, and the audience rapped the words without Lamar as they flowed down the hallways and out to the parking lot.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Rapper Travis Scott Arrested In Miami Beach For Misdemeanor Trespassing And Public Intoxication

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Travis Scott | AP news Image

Miami Beach, Florida – Miami Beach police detained rapper Travis Scott early Thursday on misdemeanor charges of trespassing and public drunkenness.

Miami Beach police verified the arrest but could not immediately release any information. According to Miami-Dade County prison records, Scott, 33, paid his $650 bond and is scheduled to be released later Thursday.

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Scott | Foot Wear News Image

Rapper Travis Scott Arrested In Miami Beach For Misdemeanor Trespassing And Public Intoxication

His publicists, Jamie Sward and Alexandra Baker, have yet to respond to emails requesting comment, and Scott’s counsel is not listed on jail records. His agent, David Stromberg, waited to respond to a message sent to his LinkedIn profile.

Scott, born Jacques Webster, is one of hip-hop’s biggest artists. He has over 100 tracks on the Billboard Hot 100 and four singles that have topped the chart: “Sicko Mode,” “Highest in the Room,” “The Scotts,” and “Franchise.”

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Scott | AP News image

Rapper Travis Scott Arrested In Miami Beach For Misdemeanor Trespassing And Public Intoxication

A crowd rush murdered ten people during Scott’s 2021 concert at Houston’s Astroworld festival. Many attendees could not breathe or lift their arms due to the crowd’s density. The victims, aged 9 to 27, died from compression asphyxia, which an expert compared to being crushed by a car.

Lawyers for the victims claimed in lawsuits that the deaths and hundreds of injuries at the concert were caused by poor planning and a lack of regard for the event’s capacity and safety.

Scott, promoter Live Nation, and the others sued have refuted the allegations, claiming that safety was their priority. They claimed what happened could not have been predicted.

The final lawsuit was resolved last month.

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Scott | Billboard Image

Rapper Travis Scott Arrested In Miami Beach For Misdemeanor Trespassing And Public Intoxication

Following a police inquiry, a grand jury declined to charge Scott and five others associated with the festival.

SOURCE – (AP)

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