The showrunner for Netflix’s new show “3 Body Problem”, David Benioff noted the parallels between a scene depicting China’s Cultural Revolution and modern cancel culture.

Netflix’s new sci-fi epic ‘3 Body Problem’ is based on the Hugo award-winning story of the same name by Chinese science fiction author Liu Cixin. While the story is about humanity preparing for an alien invasion, with an emphasis on interstellar physics, the show’s opening scene went viral for depicting a controversial historical event. The scene takes place amid China’s communist revolution, where a physics professor is interrogated and beaten to death before a crowd by Red Guards for refusing to comply with Chinese communist beliefs.

“This isn’t a commentary on cancel culture,” Benioff, who was the showrunner for HBO’s “Game of Thrones” told The Hollywood Reporter. “But we do tend to move in cycles in terms of human history, and we’re going through a certain period of the cycle right now. There are many very significant differences between the current time and the Cultural Revolution. But there are also some similarities. It was never something where we were like, ‘We should do this show because we want to make a commentary on that.’ But it is interesting that the parallels are there and are hard to ignore.”


Alexander Woo, who is also one of the series’ three showrunners alongside Benioff and Dan Weiss, noted to The New York Times that this era is “a part of history that is not written about in fiction very much, let alone filmed.”

Rosalind Chao, who plays one of the characters in the show, also spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about that scene.

“I think it’s important to have an international version of the story. Narrow-mindedness drives me a little bit nuts. Am I OK to say that? I love that this has been made more international for a wider audience,” she said. 


The actress went on to say, “You’ll probably get me more blacklisted in China for saying this, but I have a cousin who was isolated and lived with pigs for 10 years [in China]. He’s in America now, and I only found this out at Thanksgiving when he didn’t want to eat ham. They don’t talk about [the Revolution]. It’s so ingrained not to discuss it, whereas it’s a huge part of history and the fact that it can be told here in a way that also embraces the sci-fi genre, it’s kind of exciting. It’s important for people to understand world history and what makes people the way they are.”

Many commentators noted the parallels between the interrogation of the physics professor by ideological radicals in 1960’s China with cancel culture in modern society, such as game developer Mark Kern whose post with over 240,000 views argued such issues are already present in the games industry.

“The 3 Body Problem video is already happening in gaming. Devs are being forced to attend DEI seminars where they must admit their ‘white privilege’,” he wrote. “This is the verbal version of what it will become if we don’t act now. This is the Cultural Revolution in China in the 1960s.”

Tech developer Grant Slatton similarly wrote, “The craziest thing about watching this portrayal of a struggle session during the Cultural Revolution is that I know people in Seattle who would 1000% love to do this to techbros/landlords/hedge funds/whatever.”