The U.S. TV drama The Good Wife took on the Great Firewall in an episode last night. The full episode is embedded below. The Los Angeles Times gives a recap:
In Tuesday’s episode, Will asks for Alicia’s assistance with their latest client, a Chinese dissident named Shen Yuan. Imprisoned and tortured for five years, Shen Yuan is suing an American search engine with the unfortunate name of “Chum Hum” for turning over his IP address to the Chinese government. Initially, Will just wants Alicia to sit in on the negotiations — “just look angry and intense” — but clearly, she believes in the cause and throws her best efforts into it. Apparently, Will does too. In a fiery deposition, he attacks Chum Hum’s bestubbled chief executive, Neil Gross.
The deposition as heated-forum-for-contemporary-debate has become a fixture on “The Good Wife,” and this scene is no exception. Neil maintains that, even if his company has to comply with oppressive laws, “American businesses in China help open the door just a little bit.” Will is more skeptical. “It also doesn’t hurt that we also owe them $843 billion.” He also makes fun of Neil for wearing a hoodie in a deposition, a tactic that seemed unnecessarily bullying and snide. The point, I think, was to show us a hint of Will’s dark side.
Given Will’s showy denunciation of Chum Hum, Alicia is especially dismayed to discover that his interest in the case is financial, not humanitarian. She catches Patric Edelstein, the Mark Zuckerberg-esque Internet billionaire we met a few weeks back, in a secretive meeting with Will. She correctly deduces that the goal of the suit is to get Chum Hum out of China, so that Sleuth.com can swoop in and monopolize the growing market. Alicia confronts Will with her suspicions. “I just for one minute wanted to think that we were doing the right thing,” she tells him. Will claims that they are doing the right thing, even if the underlying motive is venal and not altruistic. Alicia’s disappointment intensifies when she discovers that Edelstein also plans to comply with Chinese authorities. “It’s the law,” says Will, dousing Alicia’s crush like a bucket of ice-cold water.
In a remarkably similar real life plot line, Yahoo! settled a case with writer Shi Tao, who was sentenced to ten years in prison for “leaking state secrets” after Yahoo! provided his account details to the Chinese government.