China buzzes Maverick

Staff Writer | Jul 25, 2019
The forthcoming movie, Top Gun: Maverick, has come under fire for adaptations intended to make it acceptable to the Chinese government.

The movie is a sequel to the 1986 hit, Top Gun, centring on United States (US) naval aviator Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell, played by Tom Cruise.

The film is considered a staple of Reagan-era movie-making. It has been included in the US National Film Registry as a work with particular merit worth preserving.

Cruise reprises his role as Maverick in the new movie. Trailers depict him putting on a leather jacket, apparently meant to represent the iconic item worn in the 1986 movie. However, a patch that depicted the Japanese and Taiwanese flags in that movie appears in the sequel to show two indistinct images. These are clearly not the flags seen in the first movie, but have vaguely similar colour schemes.

Critics have linked this to sensitivities in China about rival countries – Japan and Taiwan – suggesting that the changes had been made to ensure access to Chinese audiences. Top Gun: Maverick has been partly financed by the Chinese production company Tencent Pictures.

Sensitivities towards China have been evident in Western movies in recent years. The script of the 2015 comedy movie, Pixels, was altered from depicting the destruction of a section of the Great Wall of China to that of the Taj Mahal on these grounds. Themes such as those explored in movies like Seven Years in Tibet and Red Corner – providing an unflattering view of China as an invader or authoritarian state – have been avoided in recent years.


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