Bob Iger Talked To The House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party


Hollywood is being put on the hot seat in regard to their dealings with China involving movies and shows. Recently, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), who is the chairman of the bipartisan House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, led the meetings in Hollywood and Silicon Valley discussing how these groups interact with China. They also wanted to know how they change content or even design films to be acceptable to the Chinese Market.  Among the executives the committee talked to was Disney CEO Bob Iger.

It’s no secret that Iger has been involved with China having made it a priority to bring Shanghai Disneyland to life. Many news outlets kept discussing how it was part of his “legacy.”

I can see why the committee wanted to speak to Iger as Disney has come under fire for its handling of situations around the CCP. Even back in 2018 an article was written about how Disney has CCP members on staff and they were “park’s best employees were mostly party members, though the company faced no requirement to hire any.”

The article went on to give an example of a job listing that specifically required CCP membership.

Now the park is recruiting a senior specialist for its “Party/Union/Youth League Office,” according to a job listing on its website. Among the role’s responsibilities are designing and coordinating party and union activities, operating the party and union bulletin board, and maintaining daily operation of social media platforms. CCP membership is one of the job requirements.

In some strange way it seems Iger feels that putting parks in China is changing China.

Iger feels that Shanghai Disneyland is like “planting an American flag on Chinese soil and good things will happen as a result of that.”

Chairman Gallagher doesn’t agree saying “there’s two decades two decades of evidence to suggest that it really isn’t working in terms of improving our overall relationship with China and that Xi Jinping is growing more aggressive.

Deadline has an interview with Mike Gallagher about the meetings and Bob Iger.  While he will not go into specifics and quotes he did indicate that Hollywood is afraid of angering the CCP because of money basically:

Some experts, while recognizing the problem, say it would be a mistake to take an action like limiting U.S. exports to China, as Beijing would fill the void and gain global market share at America’s expense.

In fact, they all admitted that even if they saw something like genocide they wouldn’t say anything for fear of the studio being banned in China. Let that sink in!

The other thing that surprised me is just how there’s still a genuine fear of reprisal in Hollywood. I posed the question at one point, “If you were asked in public, is there a genocide happening in Xinjiang, how would you answer that question?” Everybody that I posed that to admitted they would be very reticent to answer it honestly, because they know that it wouldn’t just be China retaliating against that particular movie production. They would retaliate against the entire studio, and they would try to do to that studio what they’ve done to various actors

It was interesting that they mentioned Xinjiang as Disney directly not only filmed near a “reeducation camp” they even thanked the CCP in the credits for ‘Mulan.’ Disney CFO Christine McCarthy previously said that was “common knowledge” to thank the CCP.

The committee asked Iger specifically about it and apparently, they claim that the choice was made by the director or producer but Disney higher-ups didn’t know, but now have new policies to stop it from happening again. But we already know that every person the chairman talked to admitted they would say nothing if they saw something for fear of retribution.

Here’s what Gallagher said about Disney in regards to Xinjiang:

Obviously that incident created a lot of controversy, and I think a lot of my constituents thought, “What the heck? Why is is Disney, who all of our kids love, why are they bowing down and thanking regional officials for their help when these regional officials are complicit in genocide. It seems like an un-American thing to do.” Disney claims that, having seen that blow up in their faces, they changed their processes. That was a decision made by the director or the producer, higher headquarters at Disney didn’t approve it, so now they have some process for approving things like that. We’ll see. I don’t think they were lying to me about that. I think it is more fear of the political backlash in America than anything else that’s forcing them to change their behavior.

The committee was also focused on finding out how much Hollywood changes to appease censors and how much they are self-censoring to please the country in the first place. Who they can cast, what they can talk about and show. An example they gave was protesting because they don’t like citizens protesting (I wonder why.)

It’s all on a case-by-case basis:

You submit it to the Chinese censors in order to get it into China. And then they come back and they say, “Well, you need to change this. You can’t have this scene where your kids are protesting because we don’t like the idea of citizens and protests.” And then you make a thorny decision about, OK do we compromise our creative vision or our storyline so we can make money in China? And that’s a case by case basis that each studio is going to have to deal with. But then there’s this other more concerning issue of self-censorship, which is on the front end of making a movie. If you know you want access to China, what choices are you making with your casting, when you are finalizing the script? What creative choices are you making on the front end in order to proactively appease a Chinese censor that you wouldn’t otherwise make?

The film ‘Mulan’ had many changes made to appease the CCP and then it failed in China.

Many wonder if the US government wants to legislate films to stop them from going to China?

According to Gallagher, the answer is “no” but Hollywood often works with a unit in the Pentagon for military access that recently got some new regulations. But they aren’t going to tell Hollywood what to do. However, if they want help from the US government they might not get it if it’s for a project manufactured with China in mind.

If you want that help from the United States government, then I think the United States government has the right to say, “OK, then we don’t want your movie to be pro-CCP, anti-American propaganda.”

Gallagher has said that talks were ongoing and he would like to talk with Bob Iger again, but bringing Hollywood in front of a hearing is not likely due to “First Amendment concerns” and not wanting to legislate Hollywood.

So I’m really not sure what the point of any of this was.

What do you think? Comment and let us know!

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