Has Tom Cruise defected? Not quite, but if CCTV had its way, you might expect Goose and Maverick to be at the next PLA parade

A video clip from 1986 Hollywood blockbuster “Top Gun” has appeared in a news report on a military drill from Chinese state media CCTV. The news segment broadcast on January 23 was meant to be a recap of a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) air force drill. In the newscast, there were explosion scenes perpetrated by a J-10 fighter plane that looked very similar to scenes from the 1986 movie, which starred Tom Cruise.


The news item also included interviews with senior government officials. The striking similarities were spotted by Chinese netizen Liu Yi, who pointed out that the jet that the J-10 supposedly hit is a U.S. fighter jet. Blog The Ministry of Tofu detailed the gaffe in gleeful, painstaking detail, complete with side by side screen shot comparisons. “Looking at the screen shots juxtaposition, one cannot fail to find that even flame, smoke and the way the splinters fly look the same,” says the post. This isn’t the first time Chinese media has been accused of confusing fact with fiction. The Wall Street Journal pointed out that back in 2002, “Beijing Evening News” unwittingly translated — word for word, on its international page — sections of a spoof story ran by satirical tabloid “The Onion.”

The story was about the U.S. Congress threatening to leave Washington unless they got given a new building with a retractable dome. Xinhua also (in)famously substituted an X-ray picture of Homer Simpson’s head in an article about multiple sclerosis in 2007. CCTV often used “inappropriate footage” in news stories about the military or science and technology, as the inconsistencies are harder to spot, the BBC reported, quoting a source close to the inner workings of CCTV.

This post was written by Jeff H.

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