China that is afraid of the silly little yellow men

The ax of Chinese censorship also falls mercilessly on the Minions, the most famous yellow puppets in the world created by Sergio Pablos: harmless beings with a vaguely humanoid shape with a large oval head, skimpy arms and legs, denim overalls and enormous glasses whites. They do not shine with intelligence, and have only one task in life: to help their boss Gru in his evil raids. Because Gru is bad, very bad indeed. And in fact the last film of the saga is called “Minions 2. How Gru becomes very bad”. The film was released in Italian cinemas on August 18, making the box office boom. As in the rest of the world: 640 million euros in a very short time. With a delay, the film also landed in China, where in just three days it grossed nearly $ 12 million. Although it wasn’t exactly the original.

Yes, because the Chinese authorities have well thought of changing it. But just just barely. First of all, in the Chinese version the ending is longer than a minute, but this is not so much the problem. Because Beijing even wanted to completely overturn it by attaching a happy-ending to the film designed ad hoc so that good triumphs over evil. In the Chinese version, in fact, the final scene sees the very bad Gru give up his criminal and dissolute life to return to normality and realize his biggest, unacknowledged dream: that of being a dad. A heartbreaking stuff, in short, that some have interpreted as a reference to Chinese politics to encourage the increase in births at a time, however, in which the Communist Party is struggling with a huge decline in births. In the original version, however, the evil protagonist, voiced by Steve Carell, leaves with his partner in misdeeds Wild Knuckles who simulated his death to avoid being captured. Unable for obvious reasons to shoot alternative scenes, the Chinese authorities have added signs saying that “Willy was captured by the police, and served 20 years in prison”.

While Gru “has returned to his family, and his greatest achievement is being the father of his three daughters.” The detail has not escaped the users of Chinese social networks, who in a flash they transformed it into a viral theme with a series of posts and screenshots of the film shared on Weibo, the local Twitter. “We are the only ones who need special guidance and care, lest a cartoon corrupt us,” writes bravely DuSir, a site that publishes film reviews and has nearly 15 million followers on Weibo. “A good cartoon was suddenly turned into a propaganda film with three children,” thundered Chinese users on social networks. Well aware of representing the most important slice of the world film market, because let’s not forget that due to its strength and vastness, China can literally decide the fate of a film for better or for worse. It is not the first time, moreover, that the censorship of the Dragon overwhelms, and upsets, foreign films. Suffice it to say that in 2018 Peppa Pig, yes the lovely and funny pink pig that won the hearts of children all over the world, was banned from social media in China because it was considered a subversive icon.

And it takes a lot of imagination to consider subversive a pig that says “the sun shines in the sky, and when it rains it happens all of a sudden, just as it suddenly stops”. Last year, however, the Chinese viewers of “Fight Club”, a cult movie from 1999, had to have a rose water finale, where in the original version the protagonist and his alter ego blow up a series of skyscrapers. Too much violence, the Chinese authorities thought. And so they twisted the script by giving the police an exaggerated acumen as in a nanosecond the cops understood the criminal plan and arrested all the criminals and successfully prevented the chain explosions. Not to mention “Bohemian Rhapsody”, the biography of Freddie Mercury which earned Rami Malek the Oscar and which in China was literally purged of any reference to the homosexuality of the legendary Queen frontman. But there would be many examples and they say a lot about the Chinese propaganda that, when everything is missing, even takes it out on stupid, insignificant little yellow men.

China that is afraid of the silly little yellow men