Due to violence, nudity, and graphic language, one of the most anticipated comic book movie adaptations of the year, Deadpool, has been officially banned from China.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, China has quickly become the world’s second largest theatrical market and has found strong success with most movies taking place in the Marvel universe. But Deadpool in its uncensored form, with its crass humor and unabashed violence, is proving to be too much for the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), China’s government agency responsible for previewing and judging whether particular media is approved to be consumed by the Chinese public.
“China lacks any form of ratings system, meaning every film released must be deemed appropriate for all ages,” writes Independent editorialist Clarisse Loughrey, adding:
Now, usually, Hollywood studios can work in conjunction with China’s censorship authorities to re-cut R-rated movies; it appears, however, as though Deadpool’s just too riddled with inappropriateness to be cleaned-up. Do you think they attempted it only to come out the other side with a 3-minute cut of silent reaction shots?
As The Hollywood Reporter notes, “sources close to the Deadpool decision say it wasn’t possible to excise the offending material without causing plot problems.” As the film cannot literally be censored, SAPPRFT has opted to not allow the film to be shown in China all-together.
This isn’t the first time that foreign media has come into conflict with censorship authorities’ strict guidelines in China. Last year, the Chinese government banned 38 Japanese manga and anime which they deemed inappropriate for children and claimed promoted juvenile delinquency.
However, even domestic productions don’t fare too well either in the country that often censors materials considered too violent, sexually explicit, or containing “problematic” political and moral viewpoints. “We know what the domestic standard is and we censor every work before uploading,” said Zhou Jingqi, founder of China’s top original web comic hosting sites, U17.com, regarding how China handles the production and distribution of their own original content. “We ask cartoonists to revise those parts we deem improper.” If there is content that “might stir unease” it is censored. “Definitely no nude scenes, and scenes with clothes that are too revealing are not okay, either.”
The alarming state of free press and entertainment in China isn’t new and censorship is a very real issue that creators (both domestic and international) struggle with every day. One of the most highly anticipated Hollywood films of the year, though, not being able to jump the censor’s high hurdles to make it to the Chinese marketplace further demonstrates how complicated of an issue that this has become. “The thought of Deadpool being banned in China wasn’t a surprise, but reportedly some thought the Marvel brand might help push it through the censors,” notes Ethan Anderton of /Film. “But the Merc with a Mouth is just too much for China’s censors to handle.”
Contributing Editor Caitlin McCabe is an independent comics scholar who loves a good pre-code horror comic and the opportunity to spread her knowledge of the industry to those looking for a great story!