When I watch a documentary, I expect to pick a few historical nits. I don’t expect to be sickened by a whitewash of the greatest mass murderer of all time. But the Netflix series “How to Become a Tyrant” does just that, glossing over Mao Zedong with a throwaway line. It’s like a how-to on killing chickens that gives just a fleeting glimpse of Colonel Sanders.
That may seem an insulting comparison, and it is. To the Colonel. He only ate delicious fried chickens, while Mao‘s infamous Red Guard hosted “flesh banquets” to feast on the corpses of “class enemies.” An apt metaphor for communism if I ever saw one.
How can “Tyrant” justify spotlighting Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, North Korea’s Kims, and Gaddafi for full episodes while devoting mere seconds to this undisputed World Champion of Death, whose Great Leap Forward alone left at least 45 million dead?
If that’s not enough to qualify, Mao also marched 50 million through his laogai forced labor camps, slaughtering 70-80 million Chinese in addition to untold minorities (Hmong, Koreans, Mongolians, Manchus, Tibetans, Muslim Uyghurs) who never lived to ignore Netflix’s horrible He-Man reboot.
But killing the equivalent of every person in Germany didn’t earn a spot on the Netflix hit parade, while François “Papa Doc” Duvalier’s 60,000 Haitians did. Never mind that P. Doc’s butcher bill barely surpasses a single grizzly atrocity by China’s so-called Great Helmsman, who bristled when compared to Emperor Shi Huang. “He had buried alive 460 scholars only, but we have buried alive 46,000!”
That must’ve looked great on his LinkedIn profile.
Even the USSR recoiled at Mao‘s contempt for human life. Soviet President Andrei Gromyko described a 1958 meeting where Mao sought a nuclear bomb to slaughter U.S. troops. When Premier Nikita Khrushchev told the chairman to cheese it or risk nuclear war, Mao shrugged. “So what if we lose 300 million people? Our women will make it up in a generation.”
Because this history isn’t taught, Mao‘s smirking face is worn on t-shirts by Americans who ought to know better. He‘s cool, the Fonzi of tyrants, a cancerous reputation cured by the tonic Papa Doc never could never prescribe: A huge market and legions of Western admirers, mostly of the bookish sort Mao tucked in for dirt naps.
And while the dead may vote in Chicago, they can’t pay for streaming services or movie tickets, so Netflix — long locked out of China — has been cozying up to Beijing with Mandarin-language content and preemptively pulled their punch on Mao.
Can you imagine they’d edit George Washington out of a documentary on slaveowners? Hollywood doesn’t even offer POTUS Prime a spritz of historical Oxy Clean, such as the context David O. Stewart provides in “George Washington: The Political Rise of America’s Founding Father,” namely that of the “A-Team founders,” only Washington freed his slaves.
China still uses slave labor in 2021, yet Mao gets the star treatment while Hollywood savages our 1776 George Peppard’s and Mr. T’s. As Jason Whitlock points out, “China is spending a lot of money trying to undermine America and American culture,” and greedy corporations like Netflix and the NBA are happy to suckle at the red teat. But how long will their fortunes and freedoms endure without America?
Recently on “The Buck Sexton & Clay Travis Show,” former CIA officer Sexton warned, “The Chinese Communist Party is seeking to supplant the United States as the global hegemon.” He cited their “inflammatory and very aggressive” rhetoric surrounding the CCP’s centennial that included “Mini-Mao,” Xi Jinping, boasting that all who resist “will find their heads bashed bloody against a Great Wall of Steel.”
But in a supreme irony, to quote the Beatles, even China isn’t “going around carrying pictures of Chairman Mao” in polite company. When two Olympians wore Mao badges to the medal ceremony in Tokyo, China’s state-controlled media edited them out Stalin-style. Netflix must be proud.
It’s one thing when craven athletes like LeBron James kowtow to communists. Still, when a juggernaut of Big Tech, Big Media, and Big Business does it, they insult victims of tyranny and tell future dictators that any amount of blood can be Lady MacBeth’d off their hands if they just keep killing.
Netflix is unlikely to have a come-to-Jesus moment — fitting since China has ordered churches to replace portraits of Christ with Xi Jinping — so don’t look for a “How to…” episode on the GOAT Tyrant any time soon.
Human lives don’t matter to Hollywood.
And besides that, they’re just plain chicken.
• Dean Karayanis is producer for the Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show, longtime Rush Limbaugh staffer, and host of History Author Show on iHeartRadio.