Social media users in China have called for a boycott of the actor's films, including the recently released 'The Matrix Resurrections.'
Keanu Reeves has incurred the wrath of nationalists in China after it emerged earlier this week that he will be performing at an upcoming benefit concert for Tibet.
Some jingoistic Chinese social media users, known locally as “little pinks,” have gone so far as to suggest that Reeves’ recently released The Matrix Resurrections should be boycotted in retaliation.
The latest Matrix movie had already flopped in China prior to revelations about Reeves’ involvement in the pro-Tibet event — the film opened to just $7.5 million and has earned $12.4 million to date — so the sudden outrage is unlikely to make much difference to the Warner Bros. title’s bottom line.
The potentially more concerning factor for Reeves’ career is whether he becomes a de facto persona non grata in the Chinese entertainment landscape going forward. Many Western celebrities have seen their personal brands iced out of China’s massive entertainment market after voicing support for Tibet in the past.
Richard Gere has been banned from Chinese screens for years over his vocal support for Tibet, a fact that he has said caused him to lose movie deals in Hollywood, where studios previously coveted the growth potential of the China market. Brad Pitt also was banned for nearly two decades after starring in the film Seven Years in Tibet in 1997. Lady Gaga effectively has been prohibited from performing in the country ever since she met with the Dalai Lama in 2016.
It was revealed this week that Reeves will be one of the headline performers for the 35th annual Tibet House U.S. Benefit Concert on March 3, alongside artists including Patti Smith, Trey Anastasio and Jason Isbell. Legendary composer Philip Glass is serving as the concert’s artistic director.
Founded in in 1987, Tibet House is a New York-based educational nonprofit committed to the preservation of Tibetan culture. The group was established by supporters of the Dalai Lama and Beijing authorities have labeled it as a separatist organization advocating for Tibetan independence. China regards the culturally unique Tibetan region as an essential piece of its national territory and any suggestion of Tibetan independence is seen as an affront to the country’s sovereignty.
Reeves previously counted a sizable number of fans in China, thanks both to his Chinese ancestry and the fact that he filmed his directorial debut, Man of Tai Chi, in the country, with support from the state-backed China Film Group.