Monday, March 10, 2008

Tang Wei Banned

Tang Wei has been banned from Chinese media (story here) as of March 7th when the government renewed prohibitions on "lewd and pornographic content". It's suspected that this is all connected to their anger over Lust, Caution for both its sexual and political content. Wei's star has been on the rise since the movie premiered. It was the highest grossing Chinese language film in China last year. Only Hong Kong, a more liberated city, had the uncut version. They've even pulled a lucrative skin care commercial she made, though hopefully Tang already pocketed the money, pulling a Madonna / Pepsi move circa 1988.

Further insulting a terrific film (top ten list here) Awards bodies have been asked to not consider the film for prizes. Banning films is nothing new in China. The classic Oscar winning Raise the Red Lantern (starring Gong Li) was famously banned in the 90s and you'll notice that this week's sponsor Summer Palace (now on DVD) also got the treatment and that's just two of many examples. Governments who have a history of rigidly controlling their populace aren't generally kind to the creative set, who tend to be free thinkers.

The ban story only mentions Tang Wei and not Tony Leung Chiu Wai, arguably Asia's most important actor and a very popular star, too. Banning him probably wouldn't go over well. Plus: this way they can be politically and sexually stifling while also being sexist at the same time. Um, congratulations?

I'm in no mood to joke about this so I say this without joy and with tongue firmly in cheek --since it's so inconsequential--but wasn't the lack of international awardage for her amazing film debut (which trumps most of this past year's Oscar nominees in any acting category) enough of a burden for her to bear?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. I had heard about Saturday, but forgot to give you a heads up in case you hadn't read the news yet.

I still can't believe that Ang Lee is doing the Olympics even after this. Even Spielberg pulled out, and while I may not love all his work, I have to give him credit for taking that kind of stand, even if it wasn't because of China's own human rights violations but for supporting Sudan.

Anonymous said...

Gong Li AND Zhang Yimou both went through this) She's no Gong Li but I am sure the ban will be lifetd shortly.
Glad Ang lee stayed on to support Zhang Yimou with the Olympics.

Maybe this actress will come to America and Kick Ziyi Zhangs ass in a martial arts Film.

Nathanial, any news on Gong Li's Shanghai project? Where is it it filming? Amazing Asian cast.

Jason Adams said...

Also not meant to be insensitive, but doesn't it seem like she might've gotten more awards traction if this'd happened in the Fall? Why couldn't China think more like Miramax?

Anonymous said...

Aagh this makes me so mad. Nathaniel, you were one of the few people who championed this miracle of a debut performance - yes I agree, it did trump all this year's Best Actress Oscar nominees (except Christie I'd say).

I really hope she can still rise above this - she is a true talent and I look forward SO MUCH to what she has to deliver in future projects. Love you, Tang Wei!

Glenn Dunks said...

I believe they banned a movie called Still Life (it won the Golden Lion two years ago at Venice), which I saw at the Melbourne International Film Fest last year. It's a great movie, but isn't exactly glowing with praise for the Chinese government, so naturally...

Anonymous said...

So typical of a woman to get banned while the men walk away freely.

Time and time again people forget its called acting. They would rather look at a naked painting but can't digest some 'explicit scenes.'

It a true shame for she is a wonderful actress, its thier loss in the end.

Anonymous said...

I saw Still Life about a month ago and its politics were so subtle I'm surprised to hear the Chinese government actually saw fit/paid enough attention to ban it.

Anonymous said...

Well, Why I'm not surprise?

Remember Brokeback mountain prohibition, because in China is taboo being homosexual... In China has preference to men instead women and we what happen to the no-first child who will be girls.

And especially in China, they believe in the time of sex consumation, the women is actually a man's property because the man has penis and he is inside the women's scense (Like in some parts in Africa and even Latin America)

But don't worry to Ang Lee, he is a beloved, respect and special asian director around the world. He's the only asian director who won the Oscar and his movies are beloved for million of fans. tang Wei has an important breakthough and she's smart, she takes important roles in the future. Tony leung, we know the star factor of him outside Hong Kong.

Anonymous said...

Most governments control female sexuality as opposed to male, for several reasons. First, it's seen as a commodity, to be bought and sold by the dominant hierarchy, almost always male.

Second, female sexuality is considered "dangerous," "wild," that it breaks up groups, makes "otherwise virtuous men" spy for other governments, etc. The suppression of female sexuality is a method of control that almost all governments practice.

Thus, it's hardly surprising that Tony Leung was not banned, because in the governmental narrative, it's always the evil Jezebel/Eve that gets men into trouble.

In the good ol' US of A, btw, it's different only in method and degree ...

gabrieloak said...

I was disgusted when I read this news. I hear, though, that Tang Wei speaks English well. Perhaps she will be signed by American directors very soon.

But what is the point of banning her now? Why not when the film was released?

Lorraine said...

Utterly impressed with Tang Wei's performance in 'Lust, Caution'.
For the first time, I instantly became her fan! Cannot believe it's her debut film. It's such a pity she is banned. I really hope the ban is temporary. Hollywood directors, please give her roles!
I'm eager to see more of her!!