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China Censors Fight Club’s Iconic Ending with Authoritarian Spin
Our first entry in a rolling chronicle of businesses, filmmakers, athletes, and institutions in liberal societies that bow to censorship, or even preemptively self-censor, for illiberal authorities.
On the new Chinese streaming platform Tencent Video, censors have cut short the iconic ending of the 1999 David Fincher film so that the authorities—and authority—save the day.
In the theatrical cut Fight Club (spoiler alert, two decades on) the anarchist Tyler Durden and his love interest watch the demolition of several skyscrapers, engineered by Durden’s anarchist terror group, before the credits abruptly roll. In the People’s Republic, there’s apparently no fireworks. Instead the film cuts out before the detonation and an ending caption reads:
“Through the clue provided by Tyler, the police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding. After the trial, Tyler was sent to lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment. He was discharged from the hospital in 2012.”
Dr. How Wee Ng, a professor of Chinese film and media at the University of Westminster, told The Guardian, “The new Chinese version of Fight Club puts power back into the hands of the police and implies an ideal closure in line with the Chinese state discourse in which the symbiotic relationship between the police and the state is a given.”
The Guardian added, “It is not clear whether government censors had ordered the alternative ending or if the original movie’s producers made the changes on their own. Tencent did not comment on the matter.”
Apparently, nudity is also a big concern: