Skip to content

The Man in the High Castle’: Facilitating China’s Information War

set man in the high castle poser 640x480

by Michael Yon

Nobody does genocide like China. In the 20th Century Genocide Olympics, Nazis took the bronze, Soviets took the silver, and Chinese Communists took the gold.

Day by day, China emerges as a threat to its own people, its neighbors, and to Japan and the United States. Meanwhile, Russia might gobble up a neighbor or two, but no longer kills or imprisons citizens en masse. Germany, staggering under the weight of political correctness, is today atoning for killing Europe’s Jews and other crimes by becoming Muslim.

Consumers who form world-views from movies and television would never know this. They would have little idea that China is a problem. An Amazon subscriber watching Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, without having read the nuanced and historically sensitive ‘alternative history novel,’ in which Nazis and the Japanese take over and run America, set in 1963, might miss alterations in the plot that pander to China.

Hollywood has a long history of choosing stories, altering the fine points of history to serve political agendas and profit making. Today, we remember valiant WWII movies like Casablanca and The Great Dictator that challenged the German police state while defining American values for many audiences.

Few people know that Hollywood created other films during the 1930s that catered to Nazi messages. Films were screened based on “could they play in Berlin?”

The Mad Dog of Europe, an anti-Nazi film, was never produced, nixed by American studio heads afraid to offend the Nazis. Many anti-Nazi films shared that fate. Germany was a large market for American films and the Nazis exercised that clout with Hollywood.

In his book The Collaboration, Ben Urwand notes, “the big studios, desperate to protect German business, let Nazis censor scripts, remove credits from Jews, get movies stopped and even force one MGM executive to divorce his Jewish wife.”

Charlie Chaplin was able to create The Great Dictator because he had his own studio, and bypassed economic censorship of films that cast a negative light on the Nazis.

Bilge Ebiri describes:

But in 1938, when Chaplin announced that he was setting forth to make The Great Dictator, Hollywood was extremely wary of picking sides in the approaching war. Studios deliberately shied away from commenting on events in Europe and made it a point to take out any material that could be construed as overtly supporting U.S. intervention. Part of it was due to financial relationships they had with the German film market. Part of it was a fear of very vocal isolationists in the U.S. Studio heads also worried that they would themselves become the targets of anti-Semitic attacks if they pressed too hard for war.

Today, instead of pandering to the German police state, executives pander to the Chinese police state. “Can this play in Beijing?”

So Americans are bombarded with carefully coordinated imagery and messages designed to show the Beijing police state in a favorable light by ignoring past crimes against humanity and current human rights abuses, and by ensuring that they are not included in modern productions.

Chinese pressure is relentless. A major example of its success was the change in villains in the recent remake of the iconic, anti-Communist movie Red Dawn.

The Telegraph  reported:

“The makers of a Hollywood film, which sees a gang invade the US, have admitted changing the nationality of the villains from Chinese to North Korean for fear of alienating the lucrative market in China.

…when studio bosses at MGM realized the plot could potentially offend the Chinese, and therefore jeopardize the film’s success in China, they ordered that all references to the superpower be removed.

Rather the villains were recast as North Korean and all Chinese flags and symbols were replaced with North Korean ones.”

In Iron Man III, Iron Man’s classic nemesis from the comic books, The Mandarin, is a communist bad guy from China. Yet the producers transformed him into a British actor controlled by a Blackwater-type US military contractor company. Inexplicable, unless you consider that the Chinese government wouldn’t allow its people to see a movie about a comic book hero in which the villain was Chinese.

Most Americans are unaware of the huge amounts of money spent by the Chinese government since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and destruction of the Chinese democracy movement, to influence American public opinion favorably — and to anger and isolate Japan.

This brings us to Amazon’s new adaptation of Phillip K Dick’s Man in the High Castle. Of particular interest is the change from the book’s depiction of the Japanese. In real life, the Japanese were very different from the Nazis. For starters, Japanese officials repeatedly ignored Nazi requests to destroy Jews. The Japanese allowed escaping Jews into Japan and Japanese-controlled-China when the US was still turning Jews away from our shores. Nuance is important.

Why would the creator recast the book and the real life “Oskar Schindlers” of Japan for Amazon’s production? Attempts to contact series creator Frank Spotnitz met with rejection.

Consider that is pushing to gain market in China. Beijing, and its public relations revisionism squad pushes a message that the Japanese were the “Nazis of Asia,” and just as bad as Hitler. This is intended to lead to the conclusion that China was a more of a victim of Nazi-like forces than a major victimizer of its own people, and can create a smooth relationship between Amazon and Beijing masters.

Did Japan commit war crimes? Yes. In 2015, I visited the sites of some of those war crimes in places like Bataan, Burma, and the Death Railway in Thailand. I have also lived in Germany and Poland for about six years and saw heaps of evidence for Nazi war crimes.

I have spent more than a decade in more than twenty Asian countries. By comparison, there is little evidence of widespread Japanese atrocities. I have also found and interviewed many people in their 80s and 90s who remember Japanese fondly. Some showed me their small pox vaccinations. I write these words from Taiwan, where many old people speak Japanese and hold Japanese in highest regard, despite allegations that they were under the Japanese boot. Taiwanese in fact served in large numbers in the Japanese military, as did Koreans.

Comparing Nazi crimes with Japanese crimes is like comparing a soccer ball to a golf ball. Yet no matter what allegations are hoisted against Japanese, from Chinese or anyone at all, they are accepted uncritically. This is nothing new. In his 1938 book, Behind the News in China, author Frederick Vincent Williams noted:

“Many who read this work at the start will declare it is pro-Japanese. But how many who have read books and articles in favor of China and against Japan have said — ‘this is pro-Chinese.’ We are prone to accept anything we read or hear in favor of the Chinese as fact and to doubt as propaganda anything we hear that is in favor of Japan. As a matter of fact this country has been deluged with Chinese propaganda. And we have seen little or nothing in defense of Japan.”

This was true in 1938, and today in 2016. Laura Hillenbrand, the best-selling author of the novel Unbroken, made a baseless claim that Japanese killed all 5,000 Koreans on Tinian Island in 1944. To challenge her claim – her lie – invites scorn. Hillenbrand lied. This is a fact.

I personally offered Hillenbrand and her publisher a $20,000 reward to prove Ms. Hillenbrand’s claim that Japanese murdered 5,000 Koreans on Tinian Island. This offer stands for anyone reading this – the first person who can prove Hillenbrand’s claims will receive $20,000 from me. If this crime truly occurred, it would be easy to prove from US archives. We looked. It did not happen.

(Claim your $20,000: Details for the reward.)

The point of the reward is that people accept any terrible story against Japanese, yet when we say, “Prove it,” the response is nearly always, “What about Nanjing? What about Bataan?” They deflect, just as China deflects from its massive crimes by pointing at Japan. No rational person denies that crimes occurred by all the warring parties of World War II, but no fair-minded person will accept without evidence all random allegations such as those from Hillenbrand.

Amazon’s retelling of The Man in the High Castle demonstrates several pieces of revisionism that China prefers to the true history. Conflating the Nazis and the Japanese, making them seem more alike than different, is one.

In the book, set in 1963, Japanese and Germans, having won WWII, now occupy parts of the United States. The western United States belongs to Japan, and the East to Germany, with the middle as buffer zone. The author was able to weave a sublime mirror to modern culture, racism, the Cold War, and what it meant to be American, while simultaneously illustrating that World War II was two separate wars. The alliance between Germany and Japan was of convenience. Otherwise they had little in common and much to disagree about.

In Dick’s book, the Germans were materialistic, racial technocrats preparing to launch nuclear annihilation against the Japanese, after conquering Europe. In Frank Spotnitz’s series, the Germans and Japanese are more alike than different.

Spotnitz rewrites not only the original narrative, but takes unnecessary jabs apparently to please potential Chinese buyers in Amazon’s business ventures in China – such as making Japanese soldiers jack-booted thugs on the streets of San Francisco. The book’s clear contrast, especially with regard to how the Japanese treated Jews, is ignored. Indeed, Spotnitz creates additional Jewish characters entirely to cast the Japanese as anti-Semitic by bringing up race laws, and having the Japanese kill them with Zyklon B gas, Nazi style. This is a gratuitous slap at the Japanese, who in real life saved tens of thousands of Jews in face of Nazi pressure and threats.

The Man in the High Castle is another example of a growing list of pandering “art” from Hollywood intended to cash in on militant police states with money. Sadly, in Hollywood, money talks and morality walks when the streets are paved by China.

The original posting of this article can be seen here.

Michael Yon

Michael Yon is America's most experienced combat correspondent. He has traveled or worked in 82 countries, including various wars and conflicts.

Delivering accurate information is not Free. Your support makes it possible.

Your gifts ensure that you will continue to get unfiltered reports of what’s happening on the front lines of this fight for freedom. This will be a long journey. The struggle is just beginning. I am asking you for your support. Thank you.

No comment yet, add your voice below!

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Engage The Mission

Support The Mission

Join The Mission

Join Michael on Locals
Follow Michael on Gettr
Follow Michael on Twitter
Follow Michael on Facebook

Email (Dispatch) List

First Name(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.