If you enjoyed the violence, blood and foul language of Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” you should feel lucky. Millions of Chinese people are less fortunate and can only watch movie violence on their little laptops.
On April 11, Chinese cinemas canceled all screenings of “Django Unchained” after it premiered because of an unspecified technical problem. C’mon now. Everyone knew it was more of a censorship problem than a technical problem. As Chinese Sohu news wrote, “China doesn’t have a rating system for films or television, and shows with violence are very rare. No matter which viewer thinks the show is violent, authorities will ban it anyway.”
A month later, a new version of “Django,” with three minutes of violence, sex and politically edgy content edited out, was released in the cinema. What’s the point of watching a Quentin Tarantino movie then? We know what his movies are famous for: violence.
So Chinese movie fans watched the film on pirated discs or as illegal downloads instead. That’s how they watched Quentin Tarantino’s previous films, which have never even been released in China.
Though the Chinese government is sensitive to violence, Chinese movie fans thirst for violence just as much as Americans do. Now, as long as they have a computer and access to the Internet, it’s perfectly legal for them to watch all the violence they want. Youku, China’s biggest online TV company, imports licensed shows for Chinese citizens to watch. The violent show “The Walking Dead” has a massive audience in China.
“The Walking Dead,” a show about how humans survive in a world full of zombies, is extremely bloody and violent. But since launching in December 2012 on Youku, it has become the most popular Western show in the country. According to China’s news agency Xinhua, it has more than 250 million total views. And since its fourth season came out on Oct. 14 in China, one day after the U.S. premiere, it has had more than 54 million views and a user rating of 9.5 out of 10 stars in a month. And it frequently becomes a trending topic on Chinese social media when new episodes are released.
Now that they can legally watch violent movies and television, Chinese people are even becoming professional critics in this genre. Most Chinese viewers think “The Walking Dead” has excellent acting and interesting story lines. Unlike traditional zombie shows, it explores human nature and social problems in extreme situations.
On Weibo, Chinese Twitter, a user said, “At first I felt this show was going so slow, but now I think that’s the best part, because it just reflects the life and the reality. Though there are some episodes that need improvement, it’s still so good and I love Walking Dead!!”
I bet after reading this, you’re curious about all the free shows on Youku, but unfortunately it’s only available in China. Maybe all the free TV helps to make up for the the country’s censorship laws.