One of the stories we've been following during awards season was the likelihood that China would censor all or portions of the Academy Awards, based on something director Chloé Zhao said in an interview almost a decade ago.
Zhao said she had grown up in “where there are lies everywhere.” Well, last night she became only the second woman to ever win an Academy Award for Best Directing, and the first woman of color to do that as well.
It was a celebration as she took the stage. And no one in China got to see it.
The major search engines with China's state-run internet, Baidu and Sogou, failed to produce links to her Academy Award win (though still went to links and articles about who she is) and two state media reporters told The Wall Street Journal "They had received orders from China’s propaganda ministry not to report on Ms. Zhao’s victory, despite what they described as her status as a Chinese national, because of 'previous public opinion.'"
They even deleted comments from citizens on other websites cheering for or congratulating Zhao.
According to USA Today, "A post announcing Zhao’s directing win by film magazine Watch Movies, which has over 14 million followers on the ubiquitous Weibo microblog, was censored a few hours after it appeared Monday morning. The hashtag 'Chloe Zhao wins Best Director' was also censored on the platform. Douban, an app popular with film buffs, banned searches for Nomadland, and multiple discussion threads about Zhao’s win were deleted on the app."
Stanley Rosen, a Chinese politics professor at the University of Southern California, told the WSJ, “There is a basic contradiction between wanting to claim credit for someone born in Beijing who has succeeded in the West in a creative field and wanting to control the message about how great and successful China is as well."
This is obviously a bummer for a talented director who made an incredible movie. It minimizes how impactful last night was, and downplays what is a momentous occasion for Zhao. She will be a beacon for aspiring directors all over the globe, but you have to wonder when China will allow its people to hear her story.
Let us know what you think in the comments.