V for Vendetta, the 2005 film about a secretive, anti-totalitarian masked crusader, has long been banned in China. So when CCTV aired the uncut film today, viewers couldn’t believe their eyes. The event is now the second-most discussed topic on Weibo.
The official Weibo account @CCTV6WatchMoviesonTV announced this breakthrough moment:
CCTV6WatchMoviesonTV: V for Vendetta is on tonight at 9:52 p.m. We’ll post the plot synopsis in advance. Movie-lovers, get ready for a treat!
CCTV acknowledges that plenty of people have seen V for Vendetta despite the ban. Pirated DVDs and downloads make it easy for savvy people to see any film or TV show they like.
CCTV6’s weibo was reposted over 400 times, but has zero comments. It’s likely any comments posted were deleted.
Shocked netizens are wondering what this moment could mean for the future of censorship in China:
NotKouDe: These past few months, not only has CCTV broadcasted an interview with “Labor Camp University Village Official Ren Jianyu,” last night they also aired a film that is considered a metaphorical criticism of government–“V For Vendetta.” It’s been one unbelievable action after another! Could they be testing the waters for greater room for free speech? Or perhaps this was just the new leadership trying to butter up us rabble?
HulijunBigAdventure: Artists use lies to tell the truth. Politicians use lies to cover up the truth. In an unprecedented move, CCTV broadcasted “V For Vendetta” for the very first time, and it’s cause for celebration. It has given people hope for reform. Ideas are bulletproof.
BeijingGrassrootsPeoplesRadio: At 10 p.m. this evening, CCTV will broadcast the film V For Vendetta. Because of this film’s anti-dictatorship, freedom-fighting message, it was previously banned by the government. Although everyone online is very familiar with the film, this is its first open broadcasted on television–by none other than CCTV. Does this signal that the government will relax its control of the media and the Internet a bit? Let’s all tune in at 10 and witness this historical moment together.
北 京草根人民广播电台：今天晚上十点，CCTV6将播出电影《V字仇杀队》，这部反对独裁，争取自由的电影历来是被政府列为禁片的，虽然在网络上为众人所熟 知，但是在大陆公开放映这还是第一次，并且还在中央电视台，这似乎也向大家传递出一个信号，政府对于媒体和网络的管制在一点点解除？十点让我们来一起见证 这一历史性的时刻。
HammerheadScrewdriver: Holy crap! Later tonight I’ll to have go check to see if it was cut off.
锤子头镰刀刃：我擦,今晚上回去看看有没有删改. (12月14日 16:28)
In fact, it wasn’t cut off.
Qiushuidanyuou: December 21, 2012 is coming! Unbelievably, Imperial Court TV is going to broadcast V For Vendetta! And to think, when I wrote an online review of the movie back in the day, it was deleted.
Some people have pointed out that CCTV has rendered the film’s title as “V Commando Team” (V字别动队), instead of using the common “V Revenge Killing Squad” (V字仇杀队):
ZhanZhaofengNoSuspense: #V Commando Team# Christ, what is this “V Commando Team” crap? They can’t even type out the two characters for “vendetta”?
Netizens who have scaled the wall are sharing their excitement on Twitter:
— 此俊杰非彼俊杰 (@chengjunjie001) December 14, 2012
chengjunjie001: Even something like “V For Vendetta” can be aired on CCTV now. Could this be sign the new leadership team has really committed to enacting reform? Unless this was just another temp worker mistake…
— 北风（温云超） (@wenyunchao) December 14, 2012
wenyunchao: CCTV6 aired the entirety of V for Vendetta, and didn’t cut it off in the middle.
— Hu Jia 胡佳 (@hu_jia) December 14, 2012
hu_jia: This great film couldn’t be any more appropriate for our current situation. Dictators, prisons, secret police, control of the media, man-made disasters, eliminating “heretics”… terror, evasion, questioning lies, victory over fear, resistance, overthrowing tyranny… So, too, is the relationship between China’s dictators and its citizens.
@Kunshou shared a Photoshopped version of Xinwen Lianbo, paraphrasing the scene in which V hijacks the state broadcasting system to issue a call for revolution:
Back on Weibo, Southern Weekend elicited hopeful comments from its readers:
SouthernDaily: -CCTV Airs “V Commando Team”- People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.–V Commando Team will air on the evening of December 14 on CCTV6. As one Internet user said, “[The protagonist] is a terrorist, a crazy person, a gentleman, a thinker, a revolutionary and, in the eyes of the government, a major villain. He symbolizes resistance and advocates the use of violence to liberate the minds of an oppressed people. Tonight, CCTV’s broadcast has many Internet users feeling ‘very surprised.’”
南方日报：【央视播出“V字 别动队”】人民不应该害怕政府，政府应该害怕人民——V字别动队(12月14日晚CCTV6）原名“V字仇杀队”。有网友评价说：他是一名恐怖分子，疯 子，绅士，思想家，革命家，政府眼里的大反派。他象征反抗，崇尚暴力主义来解放被压迫的人民的心灵。今晚，央视播出让很多网友“很意外”。
This reader rejoices:
Jingtingsongfeng: Sooner or later, there will come a day when we’ll all become V!
Translation by Little Bluegill.