China’s radio and TV regulatory agency has said it will ban “effeminate” aesthetics from entertainment programs, saying “vulgar influences” should be avoided in the country.
It is yet another initiative to close the loop on what the National Radio and TV Agency (NRTA) describes as “unhealthy content” in Chinese programming.
The entity, which has ministry status, declared that criteria of moral and political conduct should be included in the selection of people to appear in programs, and some talent competition programs were vetoed.
In addition, local media authorities have promised to promote what they define as more masculine images of men, criticizing male celebrities who wear too much makeup.
On the other hand, programs that promote a traditional, revolutionary or “advanced socialist” culture, or that stimulate a patriotic atmosphere, will be stimulated.
Reality program “Little Sister’s Flower Shop” has smudged the participant’s ear to hide her earring — Photo: Reproduction/Little Sister’s Flower Shop via BBC
An opinion piece published in late August in the state-run “Guangming Daily” on Aug. 27 alleged that some “effeminate” celebrities are immoral and can harm the values of Chinese teenagers.
However, on the social network Weibo, which is very popular in China, several users criticized the censorship, saying it was discrimination and calling for respect for diversity.
THE homosexuality is not illegal in China, but authorities generally strictly censor the topic – gay references were taken from the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, about singer Freddie Mercury (although similar references were kept in the movie Green Book – The Guide). Sex and nudity scenes were also edited in popular series such as Game of Thrones.
Rami Malek plays Freddie Mercury in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ — Photo: Publicity
In 2019, China even blotted the ears of young pop stars in their TV and internet appearances, to hide their earrings or piercings. Tattoos and ponytails on men have also been blurred on occasion.
The siege is part of an effort by the Chinese Communist Party to tighten control over the growing and China’s lucrative entertainment industry – which, in 2021, should earn around US$ 358 billion, according to a recent report by the consultancy PwC.
This includes everything from increasing control over content, from games to music to movies – censoring what supposedly violates “socialist values” – to fight high wages and tax evasion in this industry.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has already reinforced his commitment to what he called “common prosperity” and, given his promise of income redistribution, some High-paying icons of entertainment and technology have received attention from the public and authorities. Last week, Chinese actress Zheng Shuang was fined $46 million for tax evasion.
Rana Mitter, professor of modern China history and politics at Oxford University, explains that the idea of ”common prosperity” was a way of “criticizing the immense inequality that currently marks society” in the country – 10% of the population concentrated 41% of Chinese GDP in 2015, according to estimates by the London School of Economics.
“Prominent high-income figures are a clear target, because criticizing them resonates on social media,” he explains. “After starting (this siege) with tech industry billionaires, the Party is making it clear that prominent showbiz stars are now another target.”
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