China is a huge market for blockbuster movies, to the point where a movie's worldwide success is practically dependent on success in China. As a result, many mainstream blockbusters have done various things to pander to China and Chinese audiences have started to feel a little insulted by this,The Wall Street Journal reports. There has started to be a push for superhero movies to stop putting a token Chinese actor in the movies for two seconds to appeal to the Chinese market and instead give Chinese actors real, substantial roles if they're going to be included.
One thing that's being focused on is the appearances of famous Chinese actress Fan Bingbing in recent Marvel movies. In Iron Man 3, BingBing actually only showed up in the version of the movie released to Chinese audiences, while she was cut out of the movie released to the rest of the world. Reportedly, Beijing Daily, a state-run Chinese newspaper, called this "quite embarrassing".
BingBing also showed up in X-Men: Days of Future Past. At least this time she was in the worldwide release, but she still got a a very small part where she only spoke one line. This has gotten to the point where Chinese audiences have come up with a nickname for the Chinese characters who have no characterization or role in movies other than being a transparent attempt to appeal to the Chinese market- "flower vases". The implication here is that these Chinese characters are nothing more than decoration.
Qui Jie, an executive of a Chinese studio, told the Journal that the solution to this problem is simple- if movie want to add a Chinese character, they should give them a "meaningful and proper" role that actually, y'know, adds to the movie. "We understand that a Chinese character will not be a lead role in the film. But if you can at least do that, the local audiences will not criticize it," Jie concluded.
That sounds like a pretty reasonable request to me. It always feels pretty condescending and insulting when studios just add a character in an attempt to cash in on a certain audience without bothering to give them a role, personality, backstory or making them important to the plot. That's the definition of tokenism. People can see through it and they'll get sick of it.
What do you think? Would you like to see more Chinese characters with actual roles? Do you feel the complaints are justified?