Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on February 16, 2008
It’s not just Hollywood’s actors who are getting involved in international politics — directors are now also calling the shots (excuse the pun). Steven Spielberg just announced he was pulling out as artistic adviser to this summer’s Beijing’s Olympic Games, citing China’s lack of commitment to resolving the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Ouch.
In a statement, Spielberg said “I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue business as usual.” China has increasingly been under fire from Darfur advocates. Two thirds of Sudan’s oil is sold to China, the proceeds of which are used to finance the genocide.
“Sudan’s government bears the bulk of the responsibility for these ongoing crimes, but the international community, and particularly China, should be doing more to end the continuing suffering there,” Spielberg said in his statement. “China’s economic, military and diplomatic ties to the government of Sudan continue to provide it with the opportunity and obligation to press for change.”
Spielberg was to join a team led by Chinese director Zhang Yimou, but had not yet signed the contract that the Beijing Organizing Committee sent him a year ago. Spielberg’s role had, in fact, been under doubt since last spring when he sent a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao urging him take action Darfur. At same time Darfur activists, including actress Mia Farrow, cautioned the director not to become the “Leni Reifenstahl” of the games by participating in what some were calling the “genocide Olympics”.
We’ll have to wait and see what effect Spielberg’s high profile departure will have on others, including the all important sponsors.