Tag Archives: censorship

X-Men: Days of Future Past and Iron Man 3’s Bingbing Fan’s Silence Worries Fans

Actress Bingbing Fan is one of the world’s highest paid actors and fans are worried about her as she hasn’t been seen in public since July 1 and generally gone silent on social media. The prolific user hasn’t been active on her account since July 23rd when she “liked” a number of posts.

In May, Fan was accused of tax evasion but she has denied any wrongdoing. The accusation includes signing secreat contracts known as “Yin-Yang” contracts. This allowed her to avoid paying taxes. Yin means dark and yang means light, so one contract is public and the other is not. Fan’s team called the accusation defamation and the reporter later apologized.

What is also concerning is censorship by the Chinese government concerning her. In June, Chinese authorities issued guidelines calling on state media to not report on these contracts or tax issues concerning the entertainment industry.

In late July, it was reported by independent Chinese newspaper The Economic Observer that police in Jiangsu province were examining Fan’s financial case, and some of her staff were also under police investiaction. It was reported that Fan, and her brother, were barred from leaving the country. After publication, that report was taken offline.

Posts about Fan’s whereabouts were also censored from social media. Comments expressing support and concern by supporters and fans have been deleted.

The Chinese government routinely censors the internet blocking sites and keywords that “threaten” the “public order.”

Fan was Wu Jiaqi in the Chinese version of Iron Man 3 and played Blink in X-Men: Days of Future Past among her 53 credits.

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The weekend is almost here and we’ve got a new geeky film hitting theaters! Who’s going to see Solo: A Star Wars Story? Or Deadpool 2? Or Infinity War? It’s a great time to be a geek. While you wait for the day to wind down and the weekend begin, here’s some comic news from around the web in our morning roundup.

CBLDF – Rage Comics, China’s Latest Censorship Target – Interesting and unfortunate.

The Beat – Phoenix Comic Fest adds metal detectors and make more changes – This is where we’re at in society.

Movie Review: The Death of Stalin

the-death-of-stalin-posterThis is a film the Russian government doesn’t want you to see. Literally.

Banned by Putin’s government and labelled as “extremist” and “propaganda,” really this is little more than a continuation of director Armando Iannucci‘s continued skewering of government apparatchiks set against the backdrop of Soviet Russia. If you loved his previous work (In the Loop, The Thick of It, and Veep), this is more of that same brand of humor– all it’s missing is Peter Capaldi swearing very loudly.

Instead, you have an all-star cast that includes Steve Buscemi as Nikita Krushchev, Jeffrey Tambor as Georgi Malenkov, and Michael Palin as Vyacheslav Molotov. Simon Russell Beale also plays the head of the NKVD (Stalin’s secret police) and Jason Isaacs tries to steal the movie when he shows up halfway through as Zhukov, head of the Red Army. And if you know those names and institutions and who they are, you will probably also love this movie. (Yes! That Russian Studies degree finally pays off!)

Based on a comic book of the same name (which we reviewed here), it’s the same sort of bureaucratic pissing contest between insecure men which Iannucci has made a career out of skewering. The basic tension is over succession following Stalin’s (spoiler alert!) eponymous passing. At the height of Stalin’s terror and paranoia, the various apparatchiks go about plotting against one another. . .  and wackiness ensues.

A darkly hilarious early scene involves an ailing Stalin unconscious on the floor, and he has soiled himself. The Soviet leadership gathers in the room and must decide by committee vote what to do. All of the good doctors have been sent to the gulags. So do we call a bad doctor? What if Stalin recovers and blames us for calling a bad doctor? And when they finally go to pick him up to take him to a bed, no one wants to kneel in the spot where Stalin peed. That’s basically the movie– and also lots of people being shot in the head for treason.

Death of Stalin US posterThe biggest problem in the film is its failure in its lack of representation. Two women have very minor roles in this, and it in no way approaches passing Bechdel or any other test. This seems to be something people noticed about the film, as the US poster released features Andrea Riseborough as Svetlana, Stalin’s daughter. But she is barely in the film. It is also as white as a Leningrad blizzard.

If I’m going to call out films like Dunkirk and Darkest Hour for choosing to tell stories only about and involving white men, I feel the need for consistency to do so here as well. Yes, yes, yes, historical accuracy and all that, but any time you choose to tell a story only involving white men — even if it viciously satirizes them as this film does — you have to ask why we chose to make this movie and not something else.

Despite that problem, it’s still a really funny movie and something that is incredibly enjoyable– and disturbing. If any of this sounds interesting to you, you’re going to love this film and its dark humor. If not, well, there’s always Tomb Raider, A Wrinkle in Time, and Black Panther out there if you want to see an adaptation that’s a little lighter. The Death of Stalin opens in limited release March 16, expanding March 23.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Facebook Censors the Critically Acclaimed “Your Black Friend” Animated Film (Updated)

On Friday January 26th, Facebook took action against an animated short film made by a black artist, about anti-black racism, posted by independent comic book publisher Silver Sprocket.

The animated adaptation of Ben Passmore‘s award winning Your Black Friend comic book received positive attention when it was posted last Monday, garnering more than 130,000 views between YouTube and Facebook.

Based on Passmore’s comic book of the same name that in 2017 was nominated for an Eisner Award and won the Ignatz, Dinky, and Broken Frontier awards, and coveted spot on NPR’s 100 Favorite Graphic Novels list.

The animation was produced by Silver Sprocket and Doggo Studios to promote Passmore’s upcoming hardcover collection, Your Black Friend and Other Strangers, collecting 120 pages of comics from VICE, The Nib, and various other publications to be released in March of 2018 and available for pre-order now from Silver Sprocket’s online store.

Though unavailable on Facebook, the video remains on YouTube.

Update: Facebook says it was taken down in error.

CBLDF Signs On with the NCAC to Support Simon & Schuster and Milo Yiannopoulos

CBLDF_LOGOThe Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has come under fire for signing onto a letter with the National Coalition Against Censorship to defend Simon & Schuster‘s plan to publish a book by controversial alt-right/hate personality Milo Yiannopoulos. Yiannopoulos is reportedly being paid $250,000 for the deal which will see the book published under the Threshold Editions which specializes in conservative personalities/books.

The NCAC joint letter/statement described Yiannopoulos as “a self-described “super-villain”, is notorious for comments and views that are deeply offensive to many.” A nice sanitized description of a ringleader and “voice” behind online harassment campaigns aimed primarily at women, minorities, and those of the liberal persuasion and language that many describe as “hate speech.”

It should also be noted the Yiannopoulos’ self-published book of poetry contained plagiarized lyrics unattributed to musician Tori Amos.

The announcement goes further to state:

NCAC’s statement supports the right to boycott a book or a company for any reason. It underlines, however, the chilling effect the response will have on authors and publishers who want to tackle topics and ideas that some may find disfavorable. The statement argues that “the suppression of noxious ideas does not defeat them; only vigorous disagreement can counter toxic speech effectively.

The CBLDF is joined by the American Booksellers Association, Association of American Publishers, Authors Guild, Freedom to Read Foundation, Index on Censorship, and the National Council of Teachers of English.

The announcement by the CBLDF of the support has led to a backlash with individuals questioning the need for the CBLDF to get involved in the first place, the focus on equating boycotts with censorship, and the lack of recognition that Yiannopoulos and his ilk are an actual threat to the lives of marginalized individuals. There’s also irony since the alt-right and their affiliated movements like GamerGate regularly coordinate in attacks to censor the left or anything they disagree with. The

The comic industry recently saw that in a dust-up concerning writer Chelsea Cain and the Marvel series Mockingbird. These same organizations were silent during that not issuing a statement of support. In fact the CBLDF has been silent towards the attacks on and sustained harassment women and marginalized communities in the comic industry in an attempt to drive them out.

The backlash to the CBLDF’s decision was bad enough that they felt the need to further clarify their support again conflating a boycott with censorship. They are not one and the same since a boycott occurs after something is released and has a goal to drive further decisions through the manipulation of the free market and capitalism. A boycott of South Africa was not a censorship of Apartheid as an example.

Read the “clarification” below or directly on Twitter.

cbldf-simon-and-shuster

The response was not positive as many noted this is more akin to the hate speech that actually threatens lives, stirs hatred, and advocates for the stripping of rights and protections from groups. They also remind the CBLDF by paying money and publishing a book, that is an endorsement of the ideas within the book and a debatably worse reality of profiting from hate. You become an enabler to the hate speech giving it a platform. There’s also a valid questioning that since censorship is not happening, again a boycott is not censorship, of why the CBLDF didn’t sit this one out.

As a donor to the CBLDF, I do question where dollars are being spent in this case (UPDATE: No money has been spent on this). One Tweet said it best, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

 

Northwest’s Hard to Swallow for Apple. Readers Get a Free Version.

Hard to Swallow UncensoredTwo weeks ago, Northwest Press submitted their new book Hard to Swallow to Apple’s iBooks with the goal of having a day-and-date release to coincide with the paperback edition that will be in comic book stores this month.

Apple rejected the book, just like they have Northwest Press’ past two releases aimed at adults. The reason is the comics having “prohibited explicit or objectionable content.”

The publisher has now decided to offer a censored version of the book for free, to shine a spotlight on what it sees as Apple’s ongoing campaign against sex in art.

In the days before the iPad debuted, Apple repeatedly rejected comic books and apps with gay content—some of which were very tame and included no nudity—and was accused of following a double standard when compared to heterosexual content. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously defended the platform’s restrictions on sexual content by saying Apple provided his customers “freedom from porn.”

Charles “Zan” Christensen, Northwest Press’ publisher and board member of the nonprofit LGBT comics advocacy organization Prism Comics, took them to task publicly for this in an online article.

in 2011, when the iBooks store was opened up to comics content from indie publishers, Northwest Press submitted its very first release, Jon Macy’s Teleny and Camille (which at that time was the most explicitly sexual book they had published). Apple accepted it, and accepted every subsequent release for about two years.

In Fall of 2013, Apple changed its submission process; they added a new “Explicit Content?” checkbox to their iTunes Producer software, which is used to submit titles to iBooks. The first book Northwest Press submitted to Apple since that change was Al-Qaeda’s Super Secret Weapon, a gay, erotic, political satire of the War on Terror. This book contained far less sexual content than Teleny, so the publisher was perplexed when the book was rejected. Despite following up and protesting the rejection, Apple’s decision stood.

This happened again when Jon Macy finished the final chapter of his fantasy epic Fearful Hunter, and Northwest Press submitted the collected edition to iBooks. Apple rejected it. Lets make that clear. Apple had already approved the first three issues. But, when those issues were collected, they were rejected.

Now that Hard to Swallow has been rejected as well, the publisher feels that Apple will continue to reject any graphic novel that includes sexual content.

Christensen emphasizes that this is not censorship, per se.

Apple is not the US government, and they can make their own decisions about what to include or not. But the waters are muddied by the fact that Apple’s devices behave a lot more like a distribution platform than a standalone bookstore, with independent publishers using iPhones and iPads as a means to distribute their work. When Apple blocks material on content grounds—blocking it from being sold in any app installed on a customer’s device, by the way—they are effectively banning the book from being sold on any of Apple’s over a billion active devices.

Hard to Swallow CensoredTo make a point about what Apple’s behavior, Northwest Press has created a special version of Hard to Swallow, which readers can download for free. They refer to it as the “apple version”, because all of the sexual content and nudity has been censored with pictures of apples.

The publisher has included an introduction to the special edition, penned by Christensen, as well as several Internet links: one is to an iBooks feedback form where the publisher urges individuals to share their feelings about content restrictions—”respectfully but firmly”—with Apple. The second is a link to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, who work to protect comic book creators from censorship and legal threats. The third is a link to Northwest Press’ entire catalog on comiXology, including the two previous books which Apple has rejected.

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It’s new comic book day tomorrow! The first new comic book day of 2016! What are folks looking forward to? We’ll have our picks in just a few hours.

Until then, here’s some comic book news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

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GamePolitics – The Public Domain Once Again Loses In The New Year – Very unfortunate.

Publisher’s Weekly – Superfan Promotions Hires Horvath, Turner – Congrats!

CBLDF – Cartoonist Discusses Self-Censorship Epidemic in India – Very interesting and unfortunate to see.

DC Comics Blog – Ten Moments that Mattered: DC Fans Take Action…and Succeed! – Last time DC listened to their fans, Jason Todd died…

ArtsBeat – Charlie Hebdo Releases Special Anniversary Edition – One year after the horrific events.

 

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ICv2 – Aldonah.Zero Season One Vol. 1 TP

CBR – Justice League #47

CBR – Lazarus #21

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The weekend is almost here, and that means comics and SPECTRE! Who’s going to see the film this weekend? While you check the availability of tickets, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

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DC Comics – DC Entertainment Statement on George Barris – Our thoughts are with Barris’ family and friends.

BBC – Graphic novel tells autobiography of child soldier – We really want to check this out.

CBLDF – Middle School Censorship Plan Leaves New Jersey Community Torn – Sigh.

CBR – “Arrow” Sees Ratings Bump with Constantine Appearance – People are surprised?

 

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Nothing But Comics – Paper Girls #2

Comics Alliance – Snowpiercer: Terminus

 

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The weekend is almost here! How many of you are heading to Halloweenfest? Have fun for those that do! While you decide if you’re going, here’s some news from around the web in our morning roundup.

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The Outhousers – In Sneak Censorship Attack, Outhouse to Unleash Army of Mini-Werthams on Unsuspecting Comics Industry – A call for censorship against calls for censorship. The circle is complete.

Sktchd – Marvel’s Secret Problem: Looking at How its Eventful Present Could be Impacting its Future – Guessing that wasn’t the intention?

The Hollywood Reporter – Sky Italy Producing ‘Monolith’ Film Based on Graphic Novel – When does it get easier to track what’s not being produced?

Kotaku – Batman: Arkham Knight’s PC Version Is Far From ‘Fixed’ – Well this should be entertaining to watch.

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We’re still recovering from New York Comic Con, and it’s new comic book day tomorrow! What’s everyone excited for this week? While you decide on that, here’s some comic book news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

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CBDLF – 5 Year Court Battle Leads to Censorship of Lebanese Comics Magazine – Sigh.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

CBR – The Omega Men #5

CBR – Paper Girls #1

CBR – Secret Wars #6

CBR – Star Wars #10

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