Bridging the Gap: Titanic and censorship
Director James Cameron’s film Titanic sailed across the Pacific Ocean and met quite a few problems in China’s film market. Titanic was first released in China in March 1998; this old version was complete without any shots missing. However, Titanic in 3D was published in China in April 2012 and lost two camera lenses: one when is Jack painting Rose only wearing “the heart of the ocean” and the other when Jack and Rose have sex in a car. This censorship is authorized by China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, whose censorship didn’t function until June 1998. Therefore, Titanic in 3D got censored and those two important romance scenes disappeared.
In fact, even though China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television didn’t announce why they must cut those two shots, the Chinese people knew clearly those two scenes are too sexual and would not be released in public in order to avoid negative influences on teenagers. At this time, a Chinese man on the Internet felt so disappointed, he tried to stand in the government’s shoes. He figured out by himself that the Chinese government may be afraid audiences might want to touch Kate Winslet in the Jack painting Rose scene because of 3D’s real effect. This Chinese guy, thinking this was the real reason, wrote it online. Unimaginably, an ordinary Chinese person said something which wasn’t 100 percent true, but became an authority in a short time.
It actually made headlines in one Canadian newspaper. The article said, “Film censors in China have edited a scene in Titanic 3D which shows Kate Winslet’s breasts over fears cinemagoers ‘may reach out their hands for a touch’. Officials at China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television said, ‘Considering the vivid 3D effects, we fear that viewers may reach out their hands for a touch and thus interrupt other people’s viewing. To avoid potential conflicts between viewers and out of consideration of building a harmonious ethical social environment, we’ve decided to cut off the nudity scenes.’”
Also, the director James Cameron was invited as a guest on The Colbert Report, an American satirical late night television program on Comedy Central. Cameron explained Titanic‘s situation in China: “They were afraid that Chinese men would actually reach out toward the screen; that would interfere with the enjoyment of people sitting next to them. This is a concern. But we made $20 million in two days, so I’m going with their edits.”
Even to that Chinese man’s surprise, this fake and unofficial reason created by him transmitted abroad in such a short time via web media. He apologized in public and confessed: “This is the first time I saw my stuff translated into English and published in many authorized newspapers abroad.” However, his apology cannot save the current condition people outside China who think “reaching-out hands” and “interference with the enjoyment of people” are real reasons the government edited Titanic. Although the censorship of Titanic became a drama in China, the power of media escalated that buzz. A piece of fake news was turned into truth in a short time and without the government’s confirmation, it spread abroad, being published in official American newspapers.
When my friends in China asked me my feeling sof watching a complete Titanic in 3D, I said it was great because the two missing shots revealed Jack and Rose’s developed relationship and intimate emotion, which were such necessary visuals in the film. Although my friends in China missed these two important components, they could still find them on the Internet.