V for Vendetta, a thriller film produced in 2005 about a near-future dystopian society, previously censored in China, was aired on China Central Television Station (CCTV) Channel Six on December 14, 2012. Many people are surprised by the screening, in particular the mask of V, which has been used by activists all over the world as a symbol of resistance against government oppression.
Screening of a politically charged film
That's why CCTV's gesture soon became a hot topic online on Chinese micro-blogging platform Sina Weibo. A huati [zh], topical discussion, was even set up on the platform, which soon had more than 3469 conversation threads.
Trumpet Micro News (喇叭微新聞's highlights [zh] this popular discussion thread:
Now! CCTV6 is showing V for Vendetta. This should be the first time the film is on show in mainland China.
The news highlight attracted many to join the conversation:
橐橐：Censorship means that there is a ghost in [the authorities] heart. Once the censorship is lifted, everything is normal. Maybe China does not really need the Chinese Communist Party for leadership, of course this is speculation.
叶孤城蝶恋花：I am so excited about CCTV 6's screening of V and feel that there is hope for the Empire after all. But I don't understand why they changed the film title (from V Revenge Killing Squad” V字仇殺隊）to “V Don't Move Team” （V字別動隊 – or V Commando Team) . Can someone explain?
Less censorship in the future?
Apart from the film title, its content had not been edited, as pointed out by the China Digital Times. LosAngels Angel pointed out [zh] that the State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARF) is directly responsible for the management of CCTV 6's program, that's why the gesture has political implications:
On the evening of December 14, CCTV aired the censored movie, V for Vendetta for the first time. The move has triggered hot discussion among netizens and some found it unbelievable or said that the channel operators had fallen asleep [at the controls]. However, according to the TV circle, the production and management of CCTV's film channel are separate, the SARF is directly responsible for its administration.
Even Global Times, the state controlled media outlet, highlighted netizens’ reactions on their microblog and attracted some critical comments:
南扉：Whether the movie can be aired or not is not decided by the people. If there is no reform within the system, people can only comment on whether the king is good or bad.
我愛壹玖捌柒：Those who decided to leave have already gone and no one cares what films are put on air. Why not show the three-hour long movie: Tiananmen?
Cupid_Yes：Why don't you open up the Great Fire Wall (internet filter)?
静静的粉玫瑰：Really hope that this is a good signal. China is a nation with rich culture. I miss the the Spring and Autumn warring states period where there were so many schools of thought competing with each other. A country has hope when it has liberated thought and diverse culture. Only till then people can look at the starry sky peacefully, while staying on solid ground.
Bridge bloggers were quick to pick up the news. Brendon Connelly also found the screening surprising:
I have no idea how many millions may have seen this story of a masked insurgent leading a revolution against a corrupt regime, and we can only guess what cultural impact it may – or may not – have had. Pretty soon, maybe, all of the cheap V masks won’t be just made in China.
So have things started to change in Chinese broadcasting? Xi Jinping assumed office as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China on November 15th and he may have brought a more liberal attitude with him…
…or perhaps V was a one-off. Time will tell.