Donnie Yen and Freedom of Speech at the Oscars

Danny Quah
Mar 2023

(I might liberally post my academic views on geopolitics or income inequality, but over my lifetime I have spent far too much cumulative time studying martial arts and the entertainment industry. From long before Hollywood started to pay attention, Donnie Yen, Michelle Yeoh, and others were quietly transforming HK cinema martial arts. Donnie Yen is a giant in his field for many reasons, both visible and otherwise.)

So the charge underlying this petition that seeks to exclude Donnie Yen from the Oscars is that in 2019 he made remarks that "violate the spirit of freedom of speech" and "denying the rights of the people of Hong Kong to fight for their freedom".

The accounts I've seen report what Yen actually said about the 2019 HK protests: "It wasn't a protest, okay, it was a riot. (...) But my own experience, like, I was there, I have many friends who were there. I don't want to get political. A lot of people might not be happy for what I'm saying, but I'm speaking from my own experience."

NME // Petition to remove Donnie Yen as Oscars presenter earns thousands of signatures (9 Mar)

The petition to remove him says the Oscar event with Yen in it will show "contempt for the people of Hong Kong" and his presence will "damage the image and reputation of the film industry".

I am not actually seeing a lot of "freedom of speech". Mostly Martin Niemoller.