A joke deemed racist revolted the Chinese to the point that the release of the blockbuster turned into a fiasco. There is no longer any trace of the film adaptation of the video game on the Chinese Internet or in theaters.
Nothing works. Neither the apologies of the production team and the actors, nor the promise of a new cut. In a few days, the blockbuster Monster hunter has completely disappeared from radar in China. In question ? A joke deemed racist that ignited the powder. Since the first day of its release, December 4, 2020, the anger has been on the rise. The production admitted its mistake, but too late. Chinese movie websites and apps continue to suppress all information about this film adaptation of a successful video game where characters travel the world to defeat monsters.
Five days after the official release, it is no longer possible to purchase a ticket on the local ticketing apps. On the specialized sites, not only the articles to the glory of the film disappeared but the comments and opinions are deleted. Invisible on the Chinese Internet – heavily watched by the regime – the film may never even be shown again. Although Constantin Film has hinted that it will present a new version, a new cut of the joke (and therefore a censored version), the producers are not sure if they can present it to Chinese audiences again. According to Variety , they would not have any news concerning a return in theaters on the Chinese territory.
A fatal misunderstanding
It all started with a play on words in the Chinese character’s film, played by rapper and comedian MC Jin. “Look at my knees!»(Look at my knees!) He asks his interlocutor. “What kind of knees are these?»What kind of knees are they? Before responding : “Chi-knees!», Referring to the pun between “Chinese” for chinese and “Knees” for knees.
Problem, this pun also refers to a racist rhyme recited by children in playgrounds across the Atlantic. This one says: “Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees – look at these”, which rhymes “Chinese”, “Japanese”, “dirty knees” and “look at those”. In just one day, the film was withdrawn from all theaters and caused a nationwide controversy.
“I apologize for the anxiety or annoyance this dialogue and its interpretation may have caused, apologizes director Paul WS Anderson. We have respectfully removed the line from the film. We never intended to send a discriminatory or disrespectful message to anyone. On the contrary, at the heart of our film, it is about unity.“
For his part, comedian MC Jin posted an apology video on Instagram. He declares that his line has nothing to do with racism, quite the contrary. “This is the moment when he proudly proclaims that he is a Chinese soldier – not just his knees, but his arms, his head, his heart.»He explains.
The Chinese star was still supported by Milla Jovovich, the film’s main actress, but also by Chinese fans who criticize the public for a lack of self-mockery. MC Jin further explained that he did not apologize for the joke, which he still considers “hilarious», But much of the misunderstanding.
Constantin Film, the German production and distribution company, also apologized to Chinese audiences in a statement. “There was absolutely no intention to discriminate, insult or offend anyone of Chinese descent., the company said. Constantin Film listened to the concerns expressed by the Chinese audience and deleted the line that led to this unintentional misunderstanding.The feature film, which has become persona non grata, is an economic drama for Constantin Film but also for the Chinese company Tencent, co-producer of the film. With a budget of $ 60 million, China was one of the top grossing countries for the film.