Censorship by commissars led to self-censorship among writers and artists in the Soviet Union. They steered clear of politically incorrect opinions, or, at best, cloaked their message in metaphors and allusions that obtuse censors would not decipher.
The process is familiar to everyone working in Hollywood.
The cyber-attack on Sony Pictures over its depiction of a (fictional) assassination of North Korean madman Kim Jong-un has exposed more than the unpleasant personalities of some of Hollywood's biggest names. It has exposed how Tinseltown lets totalitarian regimes write and edit its films, all in the quest for greater profits.
Advertisement - story continues below
The big winner in Sony's decision to pull "The Interview" was not North Korea but China, whose People's Liberation Army has an entire division of hackers targeting Western businesses and governments. Every producer now knows not to cross swords with them.
China is the world's second-largest market for films, and Beijing exercises strict control over what audiences will see on screen: no religion, no guns in the hands of civilians (armed cops are OK), no civil disobedience, no Chinese villains (unless they're from Taiwan).
Keep in mind that Chinese Communist Party censors are dictating what American audiences see as well as what Chinese audiences see. Hollywood studios won't make movies that can't play in China, so they stay away from topics or themes the Red mandarins deem politically incorrect. And then there's the uncomfortable fact that the second-largest movie theater chain in America, AMC Theaters, is owned by the Chinese. Even if Hollywood wanted to make a film telling the truth about Beijing, it would have a hard time finding a screen to show it on in the U.S.
We usually associate propaganda with sloganeering and pushing a political message with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. But we need to consider what isn't said as well as what is.
Advertisement - story continues below
Stalin erased non-persons from photos of the Politburo atop Lenin's tomb. In the remake of "Red Dawn," MGM erased Chinese invaders and replaced them with North Korean invaders. The L.A. Times reports, "In Columbia Pictures' disaster movie '2012,' the White House chief of staff extols the Chinese as visionaries after an ark built by the country's scientists saves civilization. The scene … garnered ovations in Shanghai" – and in the CCP offices in Beijing. Similarly, in "Battleship," Washington credits China with saving the world from space invaders.
Working hand in glove with Tinseltown studio heads, Beijing has edited out any negative references to its Communist regime from U.S. films. Imagine the uproar if Washington told American filmmakers criticism of the government is off-limits. But when Chinese Communist Party bosses demand the same, not a peep. American moviegoers are getting a sanitized view of China, and Hollywood is supplying the (brain)wash.
Afraid of losing money in foreign markets, Hollywood moguls have nixed Russian as well as Chinese bad guys. And with the studios building theme parks in the Persian Gulf states, you can be sure they won't want to endanger their investment by offending Muslims. Soon, the only bad guys and corrupt officials you'll see in movies will be American.
But don't expect to see any big studio films extolling the virtues of faith, patriotism, free speech or anything more substantial than comic book superheroes. These American traditions are as expendable as our borders in the minds of the globalists at the highest echelons of our society.
Who will defend the values that have defined American culture when the elites that shape American culture today no longer identify with those values, or even with this nation?