By Tenzin Lekdhen
DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 25: Days after Hollywood star Keanu Reeves was announced to be performing at the Tibet House’s Annual Benefit Concert, Chinese nationalists have called for the boycott and censorship of his highly anticipated movie The Matrix Resurrections, the latest instalment in The Matrix series.
The Tibet House US (THUS), is a New York-based “Cultural Embassy”, first founded in 1987 at the request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to preserve and ensure the survival of Tibetan culture and civilization. The Annual Benefit Concert was first initiated to celebrate “the Tibetan New Year. Traditionally celebrated with two weeks of festivities in Lhasa This celebration has continued for more than 30 years up until last year, which, due to the pandemic, have shifted on to a virtual space. This year’s concert, the 35th Annual Benefit Concert, will also be held virtually due to the rising cases of the Omicron variant of the virus.
This year’s line-up, headlined by Keanu Reeves was announced on 20 January by THUS and gained traction after Rolling Stones picked up the story. Chinese nationalists and fans have since criticised the superstar for agreeing to perform at a Dalai Lama-associated concert. According to SupChina, a Chinese user on Weibo wrote in Chinese, “I used to be a fan of Reeves not only because he has Chinese heritage. But apparently, we hold different views on Tibetan issues and it’s no brainer for me to stop liking him because of that.”
Another user in Chinese wrote, “I am going to shut you down! There are no idols more important than the country.”
The John Wick star might see a fate similar to other stars and icons censored by China for interacting with the Dalai Lama or speaking out against human rights abuses in Tibet and other colonised regions. Brad Pitt, Richard Gere, Martin Scorsese, Lady Gaga, Harrison Ford are some of the many celebrities and politicians are banned by China for supporting the Dalai Lama and Tibet.
NBA player and Boston Celtics’ centre Enes Kanter is one of the recent stars censored in China for speaking out against the CCP’s human rights atrocities and suppression of freedom in Tibet, East Turkestan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.