People living in China might soon be unable to watch shows about dramatic lives of the elite in the west. In fact, they will most probably not see anyone speaking English, drinking wine, strolling through Central Park in NYC or going on a trip to Europe for quite some time on TV.
China's censorship watchdog, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, “is poised to curb social and entertainment news reporting that lacks positive energy,” according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
The broadcast regulator said that all news content should promote “positive energy,” avoid putting “stars, billionaires, or Internet celebrities on pedestals” and stop “sensationalizing private affairs, relationships or family disputes.”
Similarly, TV shows and news programs that express “overt admiration for Western lifestyles,” make fun of Chinese traditions or tarnish “classic materials” may also face censorship.
SAPPRFT, however, did not specify what defines “Western lifestyle” in its statement.
While absurd, the move is not entirely unbelievable — after all, China is notorious for its media restrictions.
Here are a few other things the communist government has banned from television in the past few years:
1. Drinking and Smoking
Earlier this year, in order to “thoroughly implement (Chinese President) Xi Jinping's speech at the national forum on literature” where he stressed that “art must serve a social purpose,” the concerned authorities drafted the "General Rules for Television Series Content Production.”
The restrictive guidelines hit the TV shows that promoted “smoking and drinking, fighting, and other unhealthy behavior.”
Although it’s not clear, but one would assume that “Game of Thrones” was on the list.
2. Too Much Skin
In January 2015, China temporarily pulled the plug on “The Saga of Wu Zetian” — a big-budget costume drama about the country’s only female emperor. Also known as, “The Empress of China,” the show shortly reappeared with a few crucial changes.
Fans were outraged to notice that wider shots, showing off skin in the extravagant costumes, were replaced by closely cropped images focusing on the actors’ faces.
“The show was so beautiful! It’s the Tang dynasty — the characters are supposed to have plump bosoms! Now you’ve cut it so all that’s left is a big head. Thumbs down,” wrote one user on Weibo, China’s social media network.
3. Time Travel
Kids in China might never get to know about The Doctor.
In 2011, media authorities in the Asian country banned time travel in film and television, saying the sci-fi notion “disrespects history.”
“The rationale [for the time travel ban] is that whatever isn’t possible in the real world belongs to superstition,” film critic and journalist Raymond Zhou Liming told The Hollywood Reporter at the time. “Most time travel content that I’ve seen is actually not heavy on science, but an excuse to comment on current affairs.”
Chinese broadcast officials said in many instances the “producers and writers are treating serious history in a frivolous way, which should by no means be encouraged anymore.”
4. Celebrity Kids
Celebrity kids do not have it easy.
Media spotlight (read: paparazzi) and constant scrutiny of their every move and action must make life chaotic for them — perhaps that’s why most people would agree with China’s ban on a reality show about the children of celebrities.
The authorities canceled one of most popular show in the country, “Dad, Where Are We Going?” saying that “minors should be kept out of the spotlight to allow them to enjoy a normal childhood.”
The weekly show was based on famous dads taking their kids on surprise trips across China.
5. South Koreans
After China's television regulator issued “strict limits on foreign-inspired TV programs in a bid to boost innovation of homemade programs” earlier this year, Chinese TV stations had to put South Korean projects on hold.
Banner and Thumbnail Credits: Reuters