Director Paul W.S. Anderson & crew of ‘Monster Hunter’ apologize after flick pulled from Chinese theaters over ‘racist’ joke
The director and stars of fantasy blockbuster ‘Monster Hunter’ have apologized after the movie found itself embroiled in controversy in China and was pulled from theaters there over a joke line that many found offensive.
‘Monster Hunter’ premiered on December 4 in China, three weeks earlier than in the US. Yet, within one day, it was already being voluntarily dropped by some theaters due to a 10-second throwaway exchange between two minor characters. Variety entertainment website claimed that, by the next day, some cinemas received urgent notices to cancel upcoming screenings, citing screenshots of purported directives posted online.
In the problematic scene, a soldier played by Asian-American rapper MC Jin tries to lighten up his brother in arms with a pun.
“Look at my knees!” he says. “What kind of knees are these?” the second man asks. “…Chi-knees!"
Audiences were appalled by the seemingly innocuous joke, which reminded them of an old racist childrens’ chant. The rhyme “Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees” has been used in English-speaking countries to mock Asian children, often accompanied by the bullies slanting their eyes upwards or downwards.
Making matters even worse, the line’s Mandarin translation included a reference to kneeling down.
Both the film’s director, Paul W.S. Anderson, and the punster himself MC Jin issued apologies over the joke.
“I apologize for any anxiety or upset that this line and its interpretation caused,” Anderson said in a statement to Deadline on Wednesday. “Monster Hunter was made as fun entertainment and I am mortified that anything within it has caused unintentional offense,” he wrote, adding that the movie was being re-edited to remove the line.
MC Jin posted an Instagram video, saying that his line had nothing to do with the “stupid” chant, and the whole situation was “eating at his heart” as a Chinese-American.
Critics online accused the dragon-chasing Milla Jovovich flick of “humiliating China” and portraying “naked racism,” according to Radii China.
Besides all Chinese theaters abandoning ‘Monster Hunter,’ mentions of it have also been removed from film apps and websites, Variety reports.
‘Monster Hunter’s’ lead star Jovovich replied to Jin, writing: “It was our fault for not doing our due diligence and finding the WW2-era rhyme that’s caused this uproar.”
She added that none of the people involved had “ever heard” the “dirty knees” reference.Also on rt.com Peppa blacklisted? China reportedly censors animated pig as an ‘antisocial subculture icon’
Despite the serious effort by the ‘Monster Hunter’ crew to rectify the situation, the lack of response from Chinese officials seems to indicate that it isn’t likely to grace the country’s silver screens any time soon.
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