Chloé Zhao broke new ground, but nobody in China could see it live.
One of the stories we followed during the awards season was the likelihood that China would censor all or part of the Oscars, based on a statement made by director Chloé Zhao in an interview almost a decade ago.
Zhao said she grew up “where there are lies”. Well, last night she was only the second woman to ever win an Oscar for best director, and the first woman of color to do so.
It was a celebration when she took the stage. And nobody in China saw it.
The main search engines with China’s state Internet, Baidu and Sogou, She failed to produce links to her Oscar win (although she still has links and articles about who she is), and two state media reporters covered it The Wall Street Journal “They had received orders from the Chinese Ministry of Propaganda not to report Ms. Zhao’s victory, even though they said it was her status as a Chinese citizen because of ‘prior public opinion’.”
They even deleted comments from citizens on other websites cheering or congratulating Zhao.
According to USA today, “A post that announced Zhao’s gain as a director through the film magazine Watch Movies, which has over 14 million followers on the ubiquitous Weibo microblog, was censored a few hours after it appeared on Monday morning. The hashtag “Chloe Zhao wins the best director” was also censored on the platform. Douban, an app popular with movie fans, has banned searches for Nomad landand several discussion threads about Zhao’s victory have been deleted from the app.“”
Stanley Rosen, Professor of Chinese Politics at the University of Southern California, said the WSJ“There is a fundamental contradiction between wanting to recognize someone who was born in Beijing and succeeded in a creative field in the West and wanting to control the message about how great and successful China is.”
This is obviously crap 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. It will be a beacon for aspiring directors around the world, but one has to wonder when China will allow its people to hear its story.
Let us know what you think in the comments.