Beijing, China – V for Vendetta isn’t the first western film you’d imagine would be screened on China’s state television service, but that’s exactly what happened on Friday.
The anarchist movie stars an antihero rebel who takes on a totalitarian government and encourages the people to rule themselves. Based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore, it features the line, “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”
All of which may have struggled to make it past China’s notorious censors only a few years ago.
However, the screening of the movie could be an indication that China is loosening its rigorous censorship rules. An article on the ruling Communist Party’s website says the film was previously banned, but a spokesman for the agency that approves movies told the Associated Press he was not aware of any ban.
The 2005 film’s appearance on the state-owned CCTV channel immediately sparked a furor among Chinese bloggers and users on Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter. Many saw the film’s appearance as a sign that the Communist Party’s newly installed leader, Xi Jinping, is taking reform seriously. Media commentator Shen Chen told his 350,000 Weibo followers:
“Oh God, CCTV unexpectedly put out V for Vendetta. I had always believed that film was banned in China!”
Beijing-based rights activist Hu Jia added on Twitter:
“This great film couldn’t be any more appropriate for our current situation. Dictators, prisons, secret police, media control, riots, getting rid of ‘heretics’ … fear, evasion, challenging lies, overcoming fear, resistance, overthrowing tyranny … China’s dictators and its citizens also have this relationship.”
V for Vendetta, despite being far from a critical darling, has made something of a comeback in recent years. The Guy Fawkes mask popularized by the film is now used by activists belonging to Anonymous at high-profile events and has also been widely deployed at “Occupy” movement events.
You can watch the V for Vendetta trailer below: