Why the hate for Chinese subtitles for ‘Avengers: Endgame’?

April 24, 2019 - 2:13 PM
Chris Hemsworth
Chris Hemsworth as Thor in "Avengers: Endgame"

A group of malls that offered Chinese subtitles in some of its screenings of “Avengers: Endgame” reasoned for inclusivity, as many Filipino moviegoers are batting to keep the much-awaited conclusion to the Marvel Cinematic Universe films subtitles-free.

“Endgame” will premiere in international cinemas, including in Philippine cinemas, on April 24. This is two days before it premieres in the United States, purportedly to prevent piracy.

On its Facebook account, Megaworld Lifestyle Malls cited the increase of “foreign-speaking” moviegoers to its cinemas as its reason for offering Chinese-captioned “Endgame.”

“In recent years, we have noticed a strong demand from moviegoers coming from other countries, particularly those from China. As such, we have decided to make our cinemas accessible to foreign-speaking moviegoers by including subtitles in select screenings of the biggest movie of the year,” Megaworld said on April 22.

Official Statement on the Screening of Avengers: Endgame with Chinese Subtitles at Select Megaworld Cinemas

Posted by Southwoods Mall on Monday, April 22, 2019


The group further noted that having movie subtitles is nothing new as some acclaimed Filipino films were shown with English translations before.

“Showing movies with subtitles is not something new to the film industry as it allows better appreciation to non-English speaking moviegoers,” Megaworld said in its statement.

“In fact, even a number of award-winning Filipino films have also been shown in Philippine cinemas with English subtitles in recent years,” it added.

Its malls, particularly Southwoods Mall in Cavite, received some backlash online earlier this month over its announcement that several of its cinemas will have Chinese subtitles.

Southwoods later clarified that not all screenings of the movie will be translated into Chinese language.

Refunds are still possible, Megaworld stated, for those who still prefer watching movies without translations.

“You may refund your tickets at the ticketing booths where the booking or purchase was made starting today,” it said.

Aside from Southwoods, malls that will have Chinese subtitles in their theaters are Newport Resorts World Manila, Lucky Chinatown, Eastwood Mall and Venice in Mckinley Hill.

Consider xenophobia

Xenophobia is the “fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange and foreign.”

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said that xenophobia differs from racism as the former is fear on the idea that the other person is foreign or strange while the latter focuses on the person’s attribute such as skin color or facial features.

Xenophobic beliefs can therefore result in racist acts which are often violent, UNESCO said.

People had been distrustful of foreigners or strangers since prehistoric times, psychologists say.

This irrational fear, however, also makes people dehumanize those who are perceived to be outsiders.

“It’s what we call an over-exclusion bias,” said Mina Cikara, a Harvard psychologist.

“People who empathize more with their own groups tend to be more aggressive toward the out group,” she said.

UNESCO attributes the rise of xenophobia in modern times to new migration patterns and globalization.

The global agency explained that social groups from host countries tend to perceive migrants as competitors for jobs and government services.

“This cultivated a social and political climate that generated xenophobia and racism (i.e. defensive reactions against migrants), as well as nationalism (i.e. demands that the state provide better protection against foreigners for its own population),” UNESCO said.

Globalization, which increased the competition between countries, resulted in the unequal distribution of resources between the locals of one country and newcomers from another.

This later developed into an economic gap between the two.

“Research has shown that severe economic inequalities and the marginalization of persons from access to basic economic and social conditions give rise to tensions and manifestations of racism and xenophobia,” UNESCO said.

In the Philippines, the sharp increase of Chinese nationals in the country is perceived as a threat to Filipinos in terms of the labor and residential market.

Bloomberg reported that the surge of residential properties in some places in Manila near gaming firms owned by Chinese businessmen may be caused by the migration of Chinese nationals.