In China, justice and morality must always triumph according to censors
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A censored epilogue added specifically for Chinese moviegoers changed the tone of the comedy and earned viewers online mockery. In this version Gru, the protagonist of the “Despicable Me” franchise becomes good and the villain is arrested. The film’s two main villains escape unpunished in the original version. Photographs of what appeared to be a jarringly different epilogue stitched into the credits section began to circulate widely on Chinese social media.
According to the epilogue, one of the villains received a lengthy prison sentence for his crimes, while the other became a caring father of three, which some interpreted as a nod to China’s policy of encouraging higher birth rates.
The new ending reflects the increasingly moralistic bent of top Chinese officials, who have urged artists to spread “socialist core values” through their performances. Content regulators have also attempted to limit celebrity adoration, ordering streaming platforms to “purify” the online environment and correct the “illegal and immoral behavior” of internet celebrities.
Many “Minions” viewers in China mocked the special ending’s propagandistic overtones. Some mocked the photo-and-text presentation, comparing it to PowerPoint slides. Others said they preferred additions to deletions because moviegoers weren’t forced to watch the epilogue if they didn’t want to.
The film “Minions” is just the most recent example of a Western film being altered in China to conform to censor-imposed moral standards.
Screenings of the 2018 biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” removed references to singer Freddie Mercury’s sexuality, including a pivotal scene in which he informs his fiancée that he is gay and another in which his male lover is introduced. This year, viewers on Chinese streaming sites noticed that the ending of the 1999 cult classic “Fight Club“ replaced a successful plot to blow up a series of buildings with a note that the character played by Brad Pitt was admitted to a mental hospital.