Keanu Reeves’ participation in an upcoming concert in support of Tibet angers Chinese nationalists, who are calling for a boycott of the actor and his films.
It is an understatement to say that the authorities in Beijing and the Chinese nationalist milieu aligned with the government are particularly sensitive on the question of Tibet. And Keanu Reeves just found out the hard way.
Reason? The actor has planned to take part in a concert on March 3, the proceeds of which are to go to support the cause of Tibet. The concert’s organizer, the nonprofit Tibet House, has been classified by Beijing as a separatist organization supporting the cause of the Dalai Lama, an activist for Tibetan independence.
It was enough to provoke the fury of the nationalists, who call for a boycott of the actor and his films, starting with his latest, Matrix: Resurrections. Recently released in the Middle Kingdom, the film is also a bitter failure there, with barely 7.5 million $ collected for its start, and 12.4 small million collected since. Suffice to say that this call for a boycott will not help the affairs of the film, which is already in bad shape…
The backlash is likely to be all the more painful as the actor has many fans in China. Having himself ancestors from the country, he also shot his first film there as a director, Man of Tai Chi, released in 2013. At this stage, it is not impossible to envisage that the Chinese government will ban to the actor to return to the country…
A heavy liability
It is that there is a heavy liability in this area. Richard Gere, Buddhist and well known as an advocate of the Tibetan cause, has long been persona non grata in China. Same price for Brad Pitt since his film Seven Years in Tibet by Jean-Jacques Annaud. The film was banned by Beijing, who had not supported the positive portrait made of the Dalaï-Lama.
Martin Scorsese’s Kundun had also suffered the wrath of censorship and was banned. Disney, which produced and distributed the film, ignored warnings from Chinese authorities during the film’s production.
In return, the company suffered a temporary retaliatory measure: all the films in the firm’s catalog were banned. This ban was lifted two years later, for the release of the animated film Mulan. Since that time and its multiple attempts to break into the Chinese market, Disney has largely revised its position regarding the Middle Kingdom.