July 23, 2019
It's been 33 years since Maverick buzzed the tower in Top Gun. A lot has changed since then, including -- fans point out -- the iconic pilot's jacket. What does a tiny change to his military patch mean? That China has a bigger role in Hollywood's blockbusters than ever.
No one but the die-hard fans might have noticed it, but in the new Paramount Pictures trailer for Top Gun: Maverick, Tom Cruise's character is wearing the same bomber jacket, but without the flags of Taiwan or Japan on the patch for "Far East Cruise 63-4, USS Galveston." It's a small change, experts say, but it makes a huge statement about China's growing influence over U.S. filmmakers. Like a lot of new productions, the Top Gun sequel is partly produced by a Chinese distributor, meaning that the regime's censors would have had tremendous veto power over the film's content -- right down to the actors' wardrobes.
Online, social media lit up with commentary about China's shocking influence over Hollywood -- and theories that a lot of changes had been made to appease the lucrative market. Matt Philbin, managing editor at Media Research Center, can't believe how quickly things have changed in a country where America was supposed to be exporting values -- not swallowing them. It's ironic, Philbin explained. According to those who advocated for open trade with China, the Chinese were "supposed to be opening up to our content, to our ideas, to our culture -- not determining what we are doing and what we are exporting to them."
In fact, that was the whole idea more than 20 years ago with the most permanent, most favored nation status with China. The argument was we were going to change them through our economic activity by opening the doors of trade. We were going to bring them into the civilized world. We were going to help deal with the human rights abuses. And what we've found is that it's been the reverse. Now, Fortune 500 companies that were trampling each other to get into China are the ones that have jettisoned their values and will do anything now to make a Chinese dollar.
Meanwhile, these same companies are boycotting states and taking out ads complaining about democratically-passed pro-life laws -- only to turn around and partner with countries like China, who are targeting, torturing, imprisoning, and organ harvesting religious minorities. Talk about an incredible double standard. "It's our technology that is helping them stay in power," Matt argued, "at the expense of freedom, at the expense of liberty and at the expense of a religious faith. And it's a terrible, moral stain on American and the American market."
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Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.