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The Curious Case of Brad Pitt's China Tweet

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by Beth Hanna
January 11, 2013 12:35 PM
1 Comment
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Brad Pitt

The Daily Beast reports that Chinese microblogging service Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter (which is blocked there) with upwards of 400 million users, was sent spinning last week when Brad Pitt started an account, inaugurating it with this message: "It is the truth. Yup, I'm coming..." The Weibo message generated tens of thousands of responses, primarily positive, with more than 160K new followers added to the account. Then, on December 8, Pitt's message disappeared. What happened?

Part of the initial excitement surrounding Pitt's supposed visit to China stemmed from the actor's presumed ban from the country. In 1997, Pitt played the young Dalai Lama's Austrian tutor in "Seven Years in Tibet," a film that didn't sit well with the Chinese government for its violent and "biased" portrayal of local officials. Martin Scorsese's "Kundun" and Richard Gere's "Red Corner" invoked the same reaction.

It's unclear whether Pitt's Weibo message was ultimately deleted by the actor and/or his entourage, or whether Chinese censors got rid of it. Reportedly censors routinely erase Weibo messages and even entire accounts considered controversial.

The status of Pitt's visit to China, which would be his first, is uncertain. But the incident highlights a trend: As big-budget Amerian productions are increasingly trying to gain favor with China as a means of expanding worldwide box office potential, international celebrities are looking to expand their fan base in the country, too, particularly via social media. Tom Cruise currently has a Weibo account, 5 million followers strong, and NBA star Stephon Marbury has an account as well, boasting 780K followers.

As the U.S. domestic box office potential of much-delayed and reshot "World War Z," set for global release in June 2013, remains up in the air, Pitt endearing himself to the Chinese public and government could be a good move, and might breathe international box-office life into the troubled production.

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1 Comment

  • Sabina Montalvo | January 29, 2013 4:51 PMReply

    Okay! Movies are being made. Great!! Now make the following. You'll be glad you did:
    The blackness of fear drives twelve-year-old Sabina to jump out a window and run for her life. She doesn’t know what she’ll find beyond the mountains, or if she can even survive the run. Still, she knows that a machete at her throat is the last form of abuse she’ll endure in the mud-hole her parents call home.
    Sabina feels no pain at the moment, she doesn’t even feel her feet touch the ground, but much too soon she’s fighting the tree branches in a forest, which is as black as the fear she runs from.
    The river at the foot of the hillside is one of the major obstacles Sabina faces in her run to live free from the cruelty of slavery. “Swimming is not for girls,” her mother tells her, “stay out of the water and you won’t drown.”
    When a whirling pool washes her down into the deep, Sabina sees no hope. But miraculously, she awakens farther down the river. A tree limb presses her against a huge boulder at the river’s edge. She remembers the faces of angels at the floor of the whirling pool. She manages to free herself from the boulder and tree limb and slowly moves away from the river.
    The night grows darker, her fear intensifies, but she makes a promise. If she can find help, and some schooling, she’ll go back to the jungle just to help her siblings.

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