The new Disney movie with Ewan McGregor, Christopher Robin, has been banned in China for seemingly the strangest reason possible. The Winnie the Pooh fantasy story is the second Disney film this year to be banned in China, but this one is said to be linked not to film content but to the resemblance between Pooh Bear and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The other banned movie was A Wrinkle In Time.
The Hollywood Reporter says that the Chinese leader has become sensitive over comparisons between himself and the pudgy, honey-loving Pooh Bear, and has banned mention of it on television or even the internet in the communist country.
THR said that there is not a formal statement about why the movie is banned, but the mention of Xi Jinping’s likeness to Pooh got HBO banned there too.
“No reason was given for the denial, but a source pinned the blame on China’s crackdown on images of the Winnie the Pooh character, which is featured in a central role in Christopher Robin. Last summer, authorities began blocking pictures of Winnie the Pooh on social media given that the character has become a symbol of the resistance in China with foes of the ruling Communist Party, namely Chinese leader Xi Jinping.”
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) August 3, 2018
Before the release of Christopher Robin, comedian John Oliver mocked President Xi endlessly on his HBO show, Last Week Tonight, using photos of the stuffed A.A. Milne bear. The Chinese president was allegedly so angered by Oliver’s jokes that even the name John Oliver is banned from internet search engines in the Asian country.
The Chinese blogging platform Weibo (think Chinese WordPress) is also prevented from using the terms “Winnie the Pooh” and John Oliver.”
But Oliver didn’t let up.
“Apparently, Xi Jinping is very sensitive about his perceived resemblance to Winnie the Pooh. And I’m not even sure it’s that strong a resemblance, to be honest. But the fact he’s annoyed about it means people will never stop bringing it up.”
The late-night funnyman continued to talk about the world leader, who had recently lifted term limits for his office.
“It’s worth knowing that the term limits he had successfully eliminated were put in place for a pretty good reason, specifically to avoid another Mao, under whose regime some horrific things happened in China.”
Oliver added that it’s not impressive to the rest of the world to take a joke so seriously.
“Clamping down on Winnie the Pooh comparisons doesn’t exactly project strength.”