China Isn't Happy With Keanu Reeves

Nation yanks bulk of actor's movies from streaming platforms after he did benefit concert for Tibet House
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2022 1:43 PM CDT
Updated Mar 27, 2022 4:25 PM CDT
China Scrubs Keanu's Flicks From Streaming Platforms
Keanu Reeves arrives at the premiere of "The Matrix Resurrections" on Dec. 18, 2021, at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Earlier this month, Keanu Reeves participated in an online benefit concert held by Tibet House, a nonprofit based in New York that's tied to the Dalai Lama. Now, the 57-year-old Canadian actor is seeing the repercussions, with the Los Angeles Times reporting that China's major streaming platforms yanked most of Reeves' films after the March 3 concert. The paper notes that at least 19 Reeves movies vanished in recent days from the Tencent Video site, while other platforms such as iQiyi, Youku, Migu Video, and Bilibili saw most, if not all, of their Reeves inventory—including the Matrix and John Wick franchises, Speed, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, and even rom-coms like Something's Gotta Give—disappear.

Reuters adds that although Matrix content, as well as some of Reeves' other movie entries, can be found during searches on the Chinese messaging app WeChat, anyone trying to search for either "Keanu Reeves" or the Chinese version of his name—"Jinu Liweisi"—will come up empty. It's unclear if the content was scrubbed at the request of Chinese regulators or if the streaming platforms took the initiative before the government came knocking on their door, a researcher with a Chinese censorship watchdog tells the Times. China refuses to acknowledge the Tibet region's independence, and Beijing has long pointed the finger at the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet's Buddhists, for spurring separatist feelings there.

The Times notes that Reeves isn't the first Western actor to become persona non grata in China. Other stars who've gotten the cold shoulder over the years over their ties to Tibet or the Dalai Lama include Richard Gere, Lady Gaga, and Selena Gomez. Brad Pitt, meanwhile, was the subject of an apparent ban for nearly two decades just for starring in 1997's Seven Years in Tibet, which China didn't like due to the film's harsh depiction of Chinese rule. Former Boston Celtics star Enes Kanter—who now goes by Enes Kanter Freedom—has also made it on to China's snub list. More from the Times on why Reeves' open support for Tibet is somewhat "surprising," and how he's an especially big hit with the ladies in China. (More Keanu Reeves stories.)

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