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Secretary Austin, stop letting Hollywood use our military for Chinese censorship

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For those who, like me, were young in the 1980s and served in uniform, the movie “Top Gun” will always have a special place in our hearts. Many service members and fellow veterans I meet with credit seeing Tom Cruise’s iconic portrayal of Maverick for their initial interest in military service and years of intense training to join the most elite aviation units in the world. So why are Hollywood studios censoring the upcoming sequel “Top Gun: Maverick” with help from President Biden’s Department of Defense?

Nearly four decades after the release of the original “Top Gun,” the picture looks very different. With a failing career politician in the White House intent on degrading and apologizing for American values at home while appeasing totalitarian regimes abroad, Hollywood has been emboldened to censor our values. This censorship is often assisted by the federal government’s involvement in Production Assistance Agreements with Hollywood executives. For instance, despite receiving extensive and good faith cooperation from our military service members, including comprehensive access to fighter jets, ships, and Navy sailors, Paramount Studios chose to craft “Top Gun: Maverick” to win the approval of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) censors. Paramount removed Taiwanese and Japanese imagery (two of America’s closest allies) from the movie entirely, most notably by changing the patches on Maverick’s famous bomber jacket from the original film. 

This is far from the only example of Hollywood kowtowing to the genocidal CCP. There have been countless examples of studios editing their films to align politically with the CCP or, even more frequently, editing the advertising of these films, often to airbrush out African American stars. For example, Chinese posters for the recent blockbuster “Dune” (2021) inexplicably removed the black American actress Sharon Duncan-Brewster from Chinese posters despite her central role in the film. Additionally, Chinese advertisements for the recent “Star Wars” sequel trilogy similarly removed or significantly reduced the black British actor John Boyega’s presence.

What’s worse, studios have gone even further by explicitly adding pro-CCP elements to the content of films, as shown with the addition of the infamous “9-Dash Line” onto a background map in the 2019 DreamWorks Studios children’s film “Abominable.” Even children’s movies are not safe from CCP propaganda! Including the “9-Dash Line,” the CCP’s preposterous and ahistorical claim to the entirety of the South China Sea in a movie meant for young kids, shows the damage caused not only by censorship but also of what the CCP demands from Hollywood before films can be shown to Chinese audiences. These shameful instances speak to how far the film industry has fallen since the days of the original “Top Gun’s” release in 1986.

American studios have a storied tradition of portraying our service members well on screen that current Hollywood executives would benefit from studying. Classic blockbuster films such as “The Great Escape” (1963) and “Where Eagles Dare” (1968) played a critical role in showing the American public how well they are served and represented by our men and women in uniform. Who can forget the first time they saw Steve McQueen’s legendary portrayal of Captain Hilts escaping a POW camp by motorcycle or Clint Eastwood’s Lieutenant Schaeffer leading a daring rescue raid on a Nazi SS stronghold? It is precisely because we recognize the power and impact of these films both at home and abroad that we must stop the Biden administration from assisting Hollywood studios with CCP censorship. We cannot tolerate studios working with the CCP after using our military heroes like just another prop to be discarded.

That is why I have introduced the Stopping Communist Regimes from Engaging in Edits Now Act or SCREEN Act, which prevents any federal government entity from assisting Hollywood studios in the creation of a film if co-produced with a Chinese company subject to content restrictions imposed by an official of the Chinese Communist Party.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, for the sake of our national security, please do not authorize any Production Assistance Agreements or any similar arrangements with Hollywood until they come clean and stop kowtowing to the Chinese Communist Party. It’s the very least we can do.

Rep. Mark Green is a physician and combat veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq where he served three tours. He interviewed Saddam Hussein for six hours on the night of his capture. He serves on the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees.

Tags Joe Biden Lloyd Austin Mark Green

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