The Content Censorship in China Today- A Booming Cultural Market Is a Mirage

Content Censorship in China Today

Everybody knows China enforces very strict content censorship. How is the content censorship in China today? Well, we will start from What the most expected movie was in China of the year 2017? Lots of people would say “Youth” (Fang Hua). This movie was adapted from Yan Geling’s autobiographical novel of the same name. Directed by a well-known Chinese director Feng Xiaogang, it soon became a trending topic on the internet.

“Youth” told a story of a group of teenagers who joined the army as “artistic soldiers” (those who would present inspiration performances to the other soldiers) during the Sino-Vietnamese War in the year 1979.

Movies Had Been Pulled from the Theaters

“As the movie director, it (the movie “Youth” being pulled) filled my heart with sorrow.” Feng Xiaogang was tearing several times during the press conference about his movie “Youth” being canceled.

Film censorship is getting tighter and tighter

Film censorship is getting tighter and tighter

Feng Xiaogang wrote on his Weibo, “After the roadshow was done, all the road shows scheduled were canceled at this point.” “There are still five days until the date when Youth is supposed to be showing. But I already need to say goodbye to my audience. I have to be honest with you that I do feel very sad.” “There are all sorts of news about the movie Youth being canceled. I need to say that all our staffs worked hard for the movie. We are the last people who want to see the show being canceled.” Feng Xiaogang also promised the full refunds on all the pre-sold tickets.

A few days later, Feng Xiaogang wrote another post on Weibo to notice the public about the rescheduled show time of movie Youth.

There were many guesses about the cancellation of showing Youth on the internet. Lots of media and free-lance writers were discreet on what they said about the topic. The SARFT (SARFT was short for State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television of the People’s Republic of China) censorship was mentioned several times. Most of the comments still focused on the so-called “show time competition” between several movies.

An anonymous user on Zhihu wrote under a question regarding the cancellation of movie Youth, “I have watched the movie as a preview audience. I have to say that the theme of this movie is much more sensitive than any movie you can find published since the year 1949.”
“An honest narrative about Sino-Vietnamese War, it may touch the nerve of SARFT.” The comment article about movie Youth said so. “Youth could be the best movie of Feng Xiaogang. But it is hard to say now under the harsh censorship.

Besides Youth, another movie named “The Possessed” was also pulled from the theater. The Possessed was expected as the best Chinese horror movie. Many movie producers and critics gave positive reviews of the movie.

Even people were looking forward to the movie. It wouldn’t make it any easier for the movie to pass censorship. Eventually, the censorship cut off 13 minutes from the original 110 minutes movie. However, after the movie announced that the movie will be in the theater on April 4th, the news of it being canceled started spreading.

About the same time, another LGBT themed movie Call Me by Your Name was also canceled from the theaters. Both two movies were canceled for the same reason: sensitive themes.

The movie the possessed was banned just before release

The movie the possessed was banned just before release

The movie producer of The Possessed told the public that they were “trying the best to get the movie back to the theaters.”

Chinese Hip-Hop: A One-Hit Wonder

January 19, 2018, Weibo users posted and forwarded news about Chinese rapper GAI was disqualified from the TV show “I Am a Singer”. (I Am a Singer is a Chinese version of the Korean reality show I Am a Singer and it is broadcast on Hunan Television.)

The managing group of GAI told the media, “It wasn’t personal. The whole industry is facing a big change.”

The Chinese hip-hop used to be a small crowd music type in China. With an Internet music show named “The Rap of China” being popular, hip-hop music was soon introduced to the Chinese audience. Chinese hip-hop soon started getting popular. The rappers who gained popularities in the show, such as PG One, GAI, VAVA, also gained increasing commercial values.

But the Chinese rappers soon fell off-peak after the scandal of rapper PG One’s affair with a married celebrity, actress Li Xiaolu. The scandal crushed the reputation of Chinese hip-hop musicians. The mainstream criticized PG One by name. Not only the music of PG One himself but also the hip-hop group he belongs to (Hong Hua Hui) was impacted. Even another rapper, GAI, was affected by the collapsing reputation of Chinese rappers. The negative effects brought by PG One’s scandal only grew bigger.

Some people thought that having affair with married celebrity wasn’t something serious enough to have a talented rapper vanished from the market. They believed that the real reason behind the crackdown of the whole hip-hop industry was something else. Such as, even rappers like GAI tried to take hip-hop music towards the mainstream culture. There were still lots of rappers exaggerating “sex” “violence” “money” and “social statues” in their music. It was considered a “misleading value” under the Chinese mainstream culture. It also labeled hip-hop as “vulgar art”.

The audience applauded for blocking PG One. What they didn’t expect that that innocent people could also get into trouble on account of other’s misfortune. It was a great pity that a talented rapper like GAI had to leave the spotlight.

“Some rappers misunderstood the true spirit of hip-hop. The music itself does nothing wrong,” said Mirror Entertainment, an independent music reviewer. “It was wrong for the policy to allow no flexibility. Denying a music style just for a few bad nuts in it is harming the whole music industry.”

It wasn’t the first time that a music style had been banned from the mainstream culture. During the 1980s, rock music has been introduced into China by Cui Jian and his friends. Cui Jian was then considered the “godfather of Chinese rock’n’roll”.

During the 80s, China was still slowly opening up to the world. It took some time for people and the mainstream to accept new conceptions. Even Cui Jian had tons of loyal fans, he was forbidden to have concerts or showing up on the television. And it had lasted for 18 years. During these 18 years, Cui Jian can only perform in the bars or disco halls.

Cui Jian liked to talk about his opinions about politics in his music. He covered a famous “revolutionary song” and upset the government. He became the most famous “troublemaker” during that time.

Now rock music in China became part of the mainstream culture. Also, nobody was using it for political purposes.

“Almost forty years after Cui Jian’s era, the government was still trying to ban a whole music form just because of a few bad ones. They were dragging the history backwards,” said Mirror Entertainment.

Live Streams Hosts were Forced to Change Names

MC live stream was another form that the Chinese rappers were fond of. MC was short for microphone controlling. The fast-growing of live stream platforms in China attracted many people from younger generation to be MCs.

More and more content is banned in china

More and more content is banned in china

At first, the Chinese MCs usually used remixed music and Chinese poems to rap. When more and more people tried to enter this field, the contents of live stream MCs started to head to the wrong direction. Many underage MCs brought sexual contents into the show.

Right after the authorities put a stop to Chinese hip-hop music, the MCs became the next. YY was one of the biggest voice&video based online social soft programs in China. YY official put out an urgent notice regarding the usernames and titles of the MCs and their works. The vocabulary such as MC, microphone controller, sexting, sexual and school romance, etc. were all banned from the platform. The notice also mentioned that users under 16 years old were not allowed to have their own live stream shows online. Also, smoking in the live stream was forbidden. The notice included several other requirements such as no promoting counterfeit products, no unhealthy contents and no politics and military-related topics.

After the notice had been published, people did the calculation. There were 77 MC songs being banned and more than a thousand of live stream hosts were blocked.

No More “Kichiku”?

“Kichiku” videos first started on a Japanese video sharing website with overlaid comments, named NICONICO. After kichiku videos were introduced into China, it soon became popular among anime and manga fans.

Kichiku videos used clips from other shows or films. The creators will re-edit the original video and make parts of the video repeat playing at a high speed, along with the music. It has become a sub-culture among the anime and manga fans.

The SARFT had released an “urgent notice” regarding the censorship of “fan edited videos”. In the notice, SARFT has banned “illegally downloading and editing videos protected by copyright.” It included editing, dubbing, adding new subtitles, changing the original theme and spoofing.

Taking the notice literally, the notice has banned quite a lot of internet contents. Such as the popular video channels “watch a movie in X minutes”, most of the Kichiku videos and even some fan dubbed videos would be affected.

If the notice was executed, video-sharing websites such as Acfan, Bilibili would be affected in a bad way. Most of the contents of these two websites would be eventually taken off.

It seemed to be a good question “how to execute the notice”. The employees of said that they only heard of the notice. The official written notice was still pending. They also didn’t know whether they should shut down the whole section or just take off certain videos.

Who Touched the “chicken” for Dinner?

Winner, winner, chicken for dinner. But that probably was not going to happen in Hanzhong City, Shaanxi Province because of the tighter and tighter internet curb in China.

March 2018, the authorities of Hanzhong City required all the internet cafés removing the game “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” for containing inappropriate contents. It started from a father reporting the game to the authorities for “violent contents” and “illegally imported game”.

Gamers said, “Games once again took the blame.” More than ten years ago, arcades were called “electronic heroin” by parents and media, because some children and teenagers were addicted to it. When World of Warcraft was imported to China, parents and media also expressed their worries about the game may “poisoning the youth”. The other popular internet games such as League of Legend, Arena of Valor also took the blame. Parents cannot understand why their children were so fond of internet games. They even sent their children to so-called “internet addiction rehab school”, hoping their children can give up on gaming.

Do you know Why Winnie Pooh has been banned?

Do you know Why Winnie Pooh has been banned?

“They (parents) rather have their own children going through the electroshock therapy to stop playing online games. They never rethink about their poor parenting skills,” said Wenrou, a young man who went through the rehab a few years ago.

Be Aware of the “Great Cultural Revolution”

Since the year 1949, the government authorities require that the culture must serve the politics. This requirement was developed to a new level during the Great Cultural Revolution. During the Great Cultural Revolution, the government release 8 “Yang Ban Xi”, named Model Dramas in English. They became the only entertainments that people could enjoy during the ten years.

After the Great Cultural Revolution ended, the culture market gradually went back to normal. People can finally choose to watch what they want instead of what they must watch. China had experienced 20 years of culture blooming under a relatively free environment.

However, since Xi Jinping was elected as president, the government started another round of harsh censorship upon culture market. Under the pressure from the authority, it was hard for people to create excellent artworks. With a population of 1.4 billion, China has already become the third biggest movie market after America and Japan. More than more people complained about the low quality of recent movies and other artworks. The harsh censorship from the government must take the blame. The audience also tended to believe that a movie being blocked was because of “political reasons”. Considering the Chinese government tried every method to keep the stability of the society, it had no doubt to be a dangerous signal in China.

Article Name
The Content Censorship in China Today- A Booming Cultural Market Is a Mirage
Everybody knows China enforces very strict content censorship. How is the content censorship in China today? Well, we will start from What the most expected movie was in China of the year 2017?
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