Chinese Disney fans worry that an upcoming Pixar short film will be banned from theaters
And it’s all because of that one time Xi Jinping ordered some meat buns from a local restaurant in Beijing.
First with certain anime productions and then rap music, China has been making good use of its political reach in recent years to stifle several methods of free speech. Anything considered “vulgar” or “lewd” in content that could even remotely be thought of as inspiring anarchist thoughts is in danger of being censored, so celebrities, film and television directors, and even ordinary netizens have to tread lightly.
Currently Chinese Disney fans are worried that the next item to be banned could be an upcoming Pixar film. The short film, called Bao, is the story of a woman suffering from empty nest syndrome, who one day finds that life has been given to a homemade Chinese meat bun.
▼ A sneak peek of Bao.
Clearly the cute, baby-like character is inspired by Chinese culture, and its story is sure to touch the hearts of all in a wholesome, family friendly way. So what are Chinese Disney fans worried about? The tenuous connections between Bao the meat bun and Chinese State Leader Xi Jinping, that some fans are worried could get out of hand, which could result in the short film being banned from Chinese theaters.
Their concerns are based on an incident that started in 2013, when the Chinese Leader was seen spontaneously visiting a local meat bun shop in China, as part of his initiative to “keep the Communist Party in touch with the common people”. He apparently lined up like an ordinary citizen, ordered six meat buns and two other dishes, and ate his lunch while chatting with local residents.
A post shared by Pixar Animation Studios (@pixar) on
While many Chinese citizens found it endearing that he should humble himself in a such a way, some deemed the act a publicity stunt and doubted the spontaneity of the event, with some even claiming that the whole affair was fake. Eventually critical publications adopted the satirical nickname “Xi Baozi” (Xi Meat Bun) for Xi, as a way to make a commentary on the subject.
But the State Chairman wasn’t a fan, and when a user shared a satirical site that used the nickname on a Chinese messaging app, they were later arrested, charged with inciting treason, and sentenced to 22 months of imprisonment with hard labor.
Xi Jinping evidently doesn’t take ridicule lightly, and that’s further evidenced by the fact that Winnie the Pooh has been purged from the Internet in China since last year. Though no one knows exactly why, many speculate that it’s because of a series of joking tweets over the years that compared the pudgy yellow bear to Xi.
▼ Netizens also say the resemblance between former U.S. President Obama and Tigger is equally uncanny.
Di Cina tokoh kartun Winnie The Pooh di sensor karena mirip presiden Xi Jinping. https://t.co/T66bEE36H3
Thanks to the comparison, any images of Pooh, Pooh stickers and GIFs, and even Pooh’s name have been wiped from the Chinese Internet, and attempts to use his name on Weibo, China’s Twitter, are rejected with a message saying “Post is illegal”. As such, Chinese fans of Winnie the Pooh are rightly worried that the upcoming Christopher Robin movie will also miss out on a Chinese release when it comes to theaters in August.
At the moment, though, the more pressing worry is that Bao, a seemingly touching 8-minute film based on Chinese culture and directed by a Chinese-American woman, will not be shown in theaters when it premiers along with Incredibles 2 on June 15. Apparently some brazen netizens are already making comparisons between Bao and Xi Jinping, but hopefully the satirical content will stay well enough under wraps to keep the film under the Ministry of Culture’s radar.