A proposed bill directly impacting Hollywood’s business interests in China has just expanded in scope, as its champion Sen. Ted Cruz is threatening to withhold the cooperation of the entire federal government from show business.
Cruz formally introduced the bill, titled the SCRIPT Act, to the floor on Thursday. The piece of legislation seeks to stop the modification of American movies in China — a common practice for major studios to make their films palatable to those consumers. Cruz called the edits acts of censorship that fall in line with foreign propaganda.
While Cruz previously threatened to sever ties between the studios and the U.S. Department of Defense, the bill submitted on Thursday includes all federal agencies, which would include entities like the U.S. Coast Guard and NASA.
Content makers rely on those relationships for everything from use of government logos on TV shows to filming on military bases, aircraft carriers and federal buildings for content centered on topics like the armed forces and space exploration.
On the floor, Cruz underscored the need to be “vigilant about the Chinese government’s attempts to censor and silence elsewhere, including our own nation.”
The senator raised a point he has before about Tom Cruise’s character in the forthcoming sequel “Top Gun: Maverick.” Cruz highlighted that the character’s bomber jacket had been stripped of Japanese and Taiwanese flags in promotional images and trailers — thought to be done in deference to Chinese censors.
“What message does it send that Maverick, an American icon, is apparently afraid of the Chinese communists?” Cruz said. “That’s ridiculous.”
He also highlighted films such as James Bond installment “Skyfall,” Marvel’s “Doctor Strange,” the remake of “Red Dawn” and Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” as examples of censored films.
A representative for the MPAA, the studio’s collective voice on Capitol Hill, did not immediately return Variety‘s request for comment. While the legislation has not yet hit the docket, studios immediately wondered about the bill’s legality in the face of First Amendment rights.
Sen. @tedcruz introduces SCRIPT Act: "In 'Bohemian Rhapsody,' the Chinese Communist Party edited out references to the fact that Freddie Mercury was gay. In 'Dr. Strange,' they changed the Ancient One's character from Tibetan, as portrayed in the comic book, to Celtic." pic.twitter.com/JhdIVNdHZY
— The Hill (@thehill) May 21, 2020