A-lister Keanu Reeves has agreed to take part in an upcoming benefit concert for Tibet, which has drawn a huge backlash from Chinese netizens or, more likely, Chinese netizen bots belonging to the ChiCom government.
Calls for a boycott of The Matrix Resurrections have been getting louder after the 57-year-old was revealed to be in the line-up of the Tibet House US Benefit Concert on March 3.
The annual concert is held around the time of the Tibetan New Year and the Monlam Prayer Festival, which are touchy topics for the Chinese government due to their links to the Tibetan independence movement.
This year's concert will be a virtual event due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with other stars such as American singers Iggy Pop, Jason Isbell and Patti Smith.
Proceeds will go to the Tibet House US, a New York-based non-profit organisation founded at the request of the Dalai Lama to ensure the survival of Tibetan culture.
The Matrix Resurrections is the latest in the franchise, continuing the film series that began in 1999 with "The Matrix." The latest iteration opened in China in December.
"I used to be a fan of Reeves not only because he's a great actor, but also because he has Chinese heritage. But apparently we hold different views on Tibetan issues and it's a no-brainer for me to stop liking him because of that," one user wrote on Weibo, China's state-controlled version of Twitter.
Reeves notably does not court much controversy -- he doesn't take far-left or far-right stances, for instance, he just does movies. But he previously appeared in a highly acclaimed film "Little Buddha," which traces the paths of Tibetan monks who seek out the rebirth of their Buddhist teacher. Reeves played Prince Siddhartha, who was the Buddha before becoming enlightened.
"After the death of Lama Dorje, Tibetan Buddhist monks find three children -- one American and two Nepalese - who may be the rebirth of their great teacher," notes the Internet Movie Database. The film also starred Bridget Fonda and Chris Isaak.
Meanwhile -- and this should not surprise you -- the American left has embraced China over Tibet, even going so far as to host anti-Tibetan propaganda events, like one in New York City as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning.
"The Elmhurst branch of the Queens Public Library in New York City announced on Friday that it would take down a Chinese government exhibit falsely depicting children in Tibet as happily learning the Tibetan language and living freely – a far cry from the repressive reality Beijing has imposed on the region," Breitbart News reported in February 2020.
"New York’s local government only took down the exhibit after more than a week of protests from the local Tibetan community, which includes many former political prisoners under communism and refugees who endured the full brunt of Beijing’s human rights abuses," the report continued.
Ngawang Tashi, the vice president of the U.S. Tibet Committee, expressed the community's outrage over the propaganda exhibit.
“We are residents of Queens and the neighborhood around the Queens Library. So we are used to going there for studying and reading books, etc. Last week, one of our neighbors went there and noticed pictures hanging on the glass walls stating that Tibet is happy and [Tibetans] have the right to learn their languages and all the development China has given Tibet. … Activists from Students for a Free Tibet visited and realized this was Chinese propaganda," Tashi noted.
Hollywood isn't known for its stars who take a legitimately strong and unconventional stance for anyone or anything, so it's nice to see Reeves do so.