keanu reeves china

Toronto legend Keanu Reeves was just banned from Chinese media

One of Toronto's greatest acting exports has been scrubbed from tightly-controlled Chinese media, and all he did was attend a concert.

Hometown film star Keanu Reeves attended a March 3 benefit concert held by New York-based nonprofit Tibet House, a group associated with Tibet's exiled spiritual figurehead and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the Dalai Lama.

This innocent move seems to have offended the Chinese government, which vilifies the pacifist Dalai Lama as a dangerous separatist leader over his outspoken support of Tibetan independence.

At first, Reeves was only met with backlash from hardliner nationalists, organizing a limited boycott of his latest blockbuster, The Matrix: Resurrections. Though even after the benefit concert, the movie remained in theatres and many of Reeves' other hits were still accessible on Chinese streaming platforms.

The winds seem to have changed, though, and for whatever reason, the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has decided to use its tight grasp on media to scrub Reeves' presence in the world's most populous country.

Until last Monday, users of Chinese streaming platforms like iQiyi, Bilibili, Youku, Migu Video, Tencent Video and Xigua Video were still able to access Reeves' hits like the original "The Matrix" trilogy, 90s action hit "Speed," and sci-fi/comedy "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure."

But now, searching for those flicks will turn blanks. For instance, when searching on iQiyi, would-be viewers will be turned away with the message "Sorry, no results related to 'Keanu Reeves' were found," adding that "Due to relevant laws, regulations and policies, some results are not shown."

Keanu Reeves — or Jinu Liweisi to his fans in China — may have been mostly purged from Chinese media, but with a careful eye, or ear, you can still catch a few results that have slipped through the fingers of state media censors, including Reeves' voice acting role in Toy Story 4.

The CCP has taken similar punitive actions against stars Brad Pitt, Richard Gere, Selena Gomez, and Lady Gaga for merely acknowledging Tibet's existence.

The CCP's move to erase Reeves' presence from media could pose problems for the delayed but soon-to-release John Wick: Chapter 4, which features Beijing-loyal Hong Kong action star, Donnie Yen.

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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