China is a huge country, is it not? If one needs to film on location in Asia, don’t you think there are plenty of areas on the vast region where you could capture your images without pissing off human rights activists?

Tell that to Relativity Media, which is taking heat for filming scenes for its bawdy comedy 21 and Over in the Chinese city of Linyi in the Shandong province which, according to Deadline, is the same spot when blind human rights activist Chen Guangcheng is being held under house arrest. Last week, activists jumped on Relativity’s decision to film in the area, bringing attention to the politically sensitive situation that’s rocking the region.

“I hope Relativity Media will learn more about the real Linyi, about Chen Guangcheng, and see that what is currently happening in Dongshigu village is what is really amazing,” activist He Peirong said.

In response, Relativity issued a statement claiming, “From its founding, Relativity Media has been a consistent and outspoken supporter of human rights and we would never knowingly do anything to undermine this commitment. We stand by that commitment and we are proud of our growing business relationships in China, through our partnership with Sky Land, its strategic alliance with Huaxia Film Distribution Company. As a company, we believe deeply that expanding trade and business ties with our counterparts in China and elsewhere can result in positive outcomes.”

It’s an unfortunate side effect of filming in China at this moment. Which leads me to ask: Why is a raunchy buddy comedy like 21 and Over filming on location in China? The plot, according to IMDB, involves a med school student partying with his friends on the night before a major exam. Where does China fit in? Couldn’t this controversy have been avoided?

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