The Chinese government is cracking down on free expression by banning sex, homosexuality, and witches from TV and Internet entertainment programming.
According to SBS News, the list of banned topics goes much further, also including one-night stands, adultery, the use of drugs and alcohol, teenage romantic relationships, fighting, smoking, and programs which promote superstitions other than witchcraft.
One wonders if this will prevent characters in Chinese teleplays from musing about whether 2016, the Year of the Monkey, is an especially auspicious time to have a baby under China’s recently relaxed population controls.
The South China Morning Post adds “crime shows that reveal police strategies and tactics” to the censorship list, and mentions “spiritual possession” and “reincarnation” as two more forbidden supernatural topics.
Time reports that even depictions of unhappy marriages are now forbidden. Also, Chinese screenwriters can forget about anything that “glorifies colonialism, ethnic wars and dynastic conquests of other countries,” or depictions of “luxurious lifestyles,” because the resulting envy and resentment could “undermine social stability.”
Even time travel in science-fiction stories is verboten. Presumably the Politburo does not want its subjects daydreaming about how history might be changed for the better.
“Among the popular programs pulled was an online series called Addiction (also known as Heroin), which depicts gay love, and Go Princess Go, which was deemed to have excessive sex and violence,” SBS News reports.
Fans of Addiction will doubtless be annoyed that their favorite show was yanked off the air just three episodes before the end of its inaugural season. Those last three episodes have been banished to YouTube, which is blocked in China.
Indeed, Chinese viewers are said to be deeply dissatisfied with the new restrictions, especially younger viewers who saw Internet shows as a way to escape propaganda-slathered TV programming. The South China Morning Post says Beijing “tightened its muzzle on mainland China’s internet after a senior media content watchdog official demanded all online programmes be censored as strictly as traditional television programs.”
Time reports that critics of China’s draconian new broadcast standards have pointed out that “the nation’s four great literary masterpieces, including Journey to the West and Dream of the Red Chamber, all contravene the new TV regulations because they explore superstition, teenage and extramarital love, reincarnation, vengeance and feudal thoughts.”
One Chinese social-media user bitterly observed that just about everything except propaganda-heavy official news reports is now banned. That sounds like what Beijing had in mind.