The Chinese audience for the second time in 15 years warmed up to the Titanic, this time in 3D and carefully censored, collecting for its makers a whopping $ 58 million in a week.
But the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television’s (SARFT) unexplained decision to censor the scene where a young Di Caprio paints a nude Kate has triggered a controversy not spotted ahead.
In 1998, Titanic was shown uncensored in China.
So, when a graduate student gave a tongue-in-cheek explanation on his micro-blog, Sina.com, why it was scissored this time, he didn’t realize the probable impact.
“SARFT explained that, considering the vivid 3D effects, we fear viewers may reach out towards Rose and thus interrupt others. To avoid potential conflicts between viewers and out of consideration for building a harmonious social environment, we have decided to cut the nude scenes,” the blogger identified as Doubandounimei wrote last week, leaving little to the reader’s imagination. The student left a “fake news” warning at the end.
The blogger later said it was an attempt to step into SARFT’s shoes and figure out the reason behind the deletion.
But the rumour was firmly planted and many missed the warning alert. The “SARFT explanation” was picked up as the official one and used liberally in news stories. The update also went viral on the internet. A host of news portals picked it up followed lately by many in the foreign media.
According to the Global Times newspaper, director James Cameron also had a laugh on the reason behind the deletion last Thursday during the US comedy talk show The Colbert Report.
By the time a new message on his account clarified that the update was fake, the student was inundated with interview calls.
In 1998, the movie collected $ 57 million and remained the country's top earner for 10 years until 2009. This time around, another student told GT that he didn’t wait for 15 years to see “three dimensional icebergs.”
The newspaper added that Mainland China does not have a movie-rating system, and SARFT's lack of transparency in deleting scenes has long been questioned by fans and critics.“Containing bold sex scenes, Ang Lee's Oscar-winning film Lust, Caution, had to be cut by seven minutes when it was shown on the mainland in 2007. Fans who were unsatisfied by the deletion chose to download the film's uncut version or even traveled to Hong Kong to watch the steamy sections,” it said.