John Cena Shouldn’t Have Apologized to China
I feel bad for John Cena. Earlier this week, while promoting Fast and Furious 9 to a Taiwanese reporter, the WWE superstar-turned-Hollywood actor said that “Taiwan is the first country that can watch the ‘F9’ film.”
It was, in the words of one truly absurd newscaster, “a major political misstep.”
Chinese fans (and likely CCP trolling bots) immediately attacked the actor for referring to Taiwan as a country. After all, China insists that Taiwan is part of the “People’s Republic of China.”
Cena quickly issued a video apology in Mandarin — a groveling kidnap ransom plea if ever there was one — saying:
“In one interview, I made a mistake. I need to say now that this is very, very, very, very, very important. I love and respect China and the Chinese people. I’m very, very sorry. As for my mistake, I really apologize for it.”
Yes, he actually used seven very’s.
If this story sounds familiar, it’s because it’s exactly what Germany did to the Hollywood studios before World War II, installing Nazi censors directly in Los Angeles to bully writers, blacklist actors, and coerce executives into towing the party line.
But history bore out the truth: That just because Germany annexed Austria and Poland, it didn’t mean they owned them.
In the same way, just because China claims Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet, and the South China Sea, it doesn’t mean they have the right to do so.
Call me a radical, but I believe in the human right of self-determination.
I believe cultures have the right to democratically break off from their political over-nations and form their own self-governance structures.
My personal political views are irrelevant to each of these conflicts, especially in hotspots like Israel and Palestine. So are yours. Because real, local, on-the-ground democracy matters more than the opinion of outsiders. To stand in the way of cultural independence — as the empires of Britain, America, France, Spain, and Portugal have done so many times in the past — is to commit cultural terrorism. The only people who should get to decide the fate of Ethiopia’s Oromos and Tigrayans are Oromos and Tigrayans.
“Tinyism is a political philosophy that believes current empires and nations should be fractured, shattered, dissolved into thousands of independent micro-states and city-states. This action would vastly-improve democracy and enhance economies — recent statistics indicate small nations are usually the happiest, wealthiest, and most peaceful.” — Hank Pellissier
If Covid did anything, it put us in our place.
It made our lives a whole lot more local.
Soon, we’ll witness a move from nationalism to regionalism.
We’ll also see a rapid rise in private cities.
Because culture transcends political boundaries. Culture is more important than bureaucrats and their outdated opinions of what it means to be human.
100 years from now, there will be 100+ new political expressions.
There are loads of great people in Hollywood, but it is also full of cowards who will smile and say anything in order to please the mob, land the role, or make their movie a hit. Studios will self-censor their own films in order to capture that massive Chinese box office money. But what happens when artists are censored by politicos? Just look at Germany, Russia, and North Korea. We get bad art, more conformist propaganda, and the lie is solidified.
We’re all poorer for it.
John Cena says he loves and respects Chinese people. Is it really loving and respectful to cower to a dictatorial communist regime? And is it really loving to care more about the Han culture than the Taiwanese, Tibetan, Hong Kong, and Uyghur cultures? Isn’t that the definition of discrimination?
Part of loving and respecting anyone is willing to tell them the truth no matter the consequences. It’s why I refused to bow to Kim Jong Il when I visited North Korea. Love and respect are built on a foundation of truth.
My great-great grandfather was born and raised in China. His father started a college there. Growing up, my parents housed Chinese doctors who came over to study. I actually love and respect Chinese people. But I hate their government’s war crimes against the Uyghurs, their manipulation of Hong Kong democracy, their annexation of Tibet, and their desperate control of Taiwan. China’s Han culture is choking out other cultures. It’s not right. And history will certainly bear it out.
Maybe they’ll even make a movie about it.
Jared A. Brock is an award-winning writer-director of several films including PBS’s Redeeming Uncle Tom with Danny Glover.