V for Vendetta in Chinese TV for the First Time
"People shouldn't be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people."
The comic adaptation V for Vendetta starring Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman came out in 2005 and wasn't that much of a hit in cinemas. Still, it managed to gain enough influence through the Guy Fawkes mask that is worn by the main protagonist. It became a symbol of countless activists against oppression by the government - some of them being Chinese.
Therefore, it's no surprise that the film was banned in China. What was surprising, though, is that it was shown in Chinese national television last friday - without any cuts. Those who missed it can still catch it via the online archive of the channel CCTV6. Reports indicate that the airing was no mistake, either. The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, which is also responsible for media censorship, approved of the airing.
The airing of the film with the alternate title V Special Forces (or inofficially translated V the Revenge Killing Squad) was heavily discussed in Chinese blogs and different newspapers. But not only the film was discussed but also the fact how many Chinese people knew about the movie although it was banned.
The question remains: why the sudden approval and why this film? Well, the Chinese censors are under a lot of pressure lately. Not only the foreign countries but also voices from within the country demand changes and it seems to lighten up a bit. This is why the film Cold War could be shown in cinemas without cuts although it revolves around two police officers that fight against each other for a promotion (which is clearly a reference to the appointment of the new general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party). Furthermore, it was quite problematic to show Chinese policemen in a more negative light in the past.
Some expect that the government in Peking will accept more often that normal citizens get to see some things that were previously banned. It's more important that they don't develop the wish to act against the government. Passive consumption of critical films or media in general should become easier in the future. A sympathetic behavior towards activists should not be expected, though.