Some people call it apologizing. Others, well, they like to refer to it as kowtowing. John Cena made a tactical error while promoting his new film, F9, and whichever side you align yourself with, you probably won’t be happy.
John Cena was in China, where the movie first premiered, doing a slew of promotional interviews. During an interview with the Taiwanese television network TVBS, Cena made the blunder heard all around China. He said that Taiwan will be “the first country to watch the film.” Uh oh.
To backtrack just a tad, Universal Pictures had previously chosen Taiwan as their global launching pad for the F9 premiere, and it was set for May 19 but that was nixed due to COVID. The film then got its long-awaited release in mainland China on May 21, 2021. Even so, Cena perhaps should have known how China feels about Taiwan being very instrumental in their country.
John Cena’s apology was a posted video message on Sina Weibo where he addressed, in somewhat good Mandarin, the Chinese people. “Hi China, I’m John Cena. I’m in the middle of Fast and Furious 9 promotions. I’m doing a lot of interviews. I made a mistake in one of my interviews. Everyone was asking me if I could use Chinese – [movie] staff gave me a lot of information, so there was a lot of interviews and information,” Cena began.
“I made one mistake. I have to say something very, very, very important now. I love and respect China and Chinese people. I’m very, very sorry about my mistake. I apologise, I apologise, I’m very sorry. You must understand that I really love, really respect China and the Chinese people. My apologies. See you.”
John Cena’s impressive ability to speak the language was all brought upon his affiliation with the WWE and their Chinese promotions while wrestling in China. Language abilities aside, his apology was not met with open arms on either side.
One Weibo user hit John Cena with, “Please say in Chinese that Taiwan is part of China. Otherwise, we won’t accept it.” Another user also had no problem in calling out John Cena for his gaffe, “Then you should say Taiwan is China’s! What you have said in the video is nonsense. You can’t take benefits from China, but in the meantime, do things to harm China’s interests.” Those were just a couple of the thousands of Cena naysayers.
On the opposite side, John Cena received the support one would expect from those across the U.S., one coming from producer Chris Fenton, who worked on Cena’s comedy Blockers. He tweeted, “I’m a fan of #JohnCena. Produced his comedy #Blockers. This issue is systemic & I’ve been extremely vocal about that. No one actor can fix it, & Cena is complying w/ his contract. This #CCP problem must b addressed industry-wide, across all industries, & as nation! Now!”
The problem here is that Taiwan, for all intents and purposes, is actually a country of its own though China refuses to see it that way. With as much business the movie industry does in China, you can see why a Cena apology, while not popular here, is necessary over there. The overseas box office take would be nothing without China.
John Cena’s apology is just another in a long line of apologies directed at China. Not only does the entertainment industry rely on China’s business but other industries such as sports and luxury brands do as well. These other big business industries often run afoul in their dealing with China, as evidenced by the LeBron James/Daryl Morey (ex-GM of the Houston Rockets) fallout as well Coach, Versace, and Givenchy, brands that misidentified Hong Kong and Macau, by way of T-shirts, as countries. While not forced, the company did offer an apology of their own.
What this means for John Cena and his fandom here in the United States is unknown. He, along with others from the F9 cast as well as director Justin Lin, continue their promotional tour overseas. Much more will be known when the crew returns for a bit of promotional touring in the U.S. before its June 25, premiere date.
The reaction to John Cena here in the U.S. will be interesting because on top of F9 premiering soon, the former WWE wrestler has The Suicide Squad up next and he is also filming Peacemaker, a series that follows the exploits of his Suicide Squad character.