China Bans Reality TV Contests After Failing to Hijack Them with Communist Propaganda

Singer Kris Wu, center, performs in the 2017 Tmall 11.11 Global Shopping Festival gala, in Shanghai, China on Nov. 10, 2017. The popular Chinese-Canadian singer, Kris Wu, has lost endorsement deals with at least 10 brands including Porsche and Louis Vuitton after a teen-ager accused him of having sex with …
Chinatopix via AP

China’s National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) ordered broadcasters on Thursday to stop airing TV shows featuring “sissy men” and “idol development programs.”

Chinese broadcasters must “resolutely put an end to sissy men and other abnormal esthetics,” the TV regulator said in a notice issued September 2, according to the Associated Press (AP). “Sissy men” is the English translation of “niang pao,” a Mandarin term for effeminate men.

“Broadcast and TV institutions must not screen idol development programmes or variety shows and reality shows that feature the children of celebrities,” the NRTA’s edict further read.

The NRTA said it expects Chinese broadcasters to “resolutely resist showing off wealth and enjoyment, hyping up gossip and privacy, negative hot topics, vulgar ‘internet celebrities,’ and the bottomless appreciation of ugliness, and other pan-entertainment tendencies,” according to the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper. In lieu of the “unhealthy content,” Chinese broadcasters should instead “vigorously promote excellent Chinese traditional culture, revolutionary culture and advanced socialist culture.”

NRTA’s mandate on Thursday comes as part of a wider crackdown on capitalist culture within China by the ruling Communist Party.

“Individuals with a wrong political stance, and those who go against the country and the Communist Party of China, should not be employed by the [entertainment] industry,” NRTA wrote in its September 2 press release, as quoted by China’s state-run Global Times. “The same goes for those who violate Chinese laws or social morality.”

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) banned rap and hip hop music from airing on Chinese television in January 2018 after becoming dissatisfied with the growing popularity of a reality competition show for aspiring rappers called The Rap of China. At least two of the show’s contestants consistently failed to demonstrate significant loyalty to communist-approved “values” and were subsequently blacklisted by the Chinese government.

“Hip hop artists Wang Hao, known as ‘PG One’ and Zhou Yan, known as ‘GAI’ — the two winners of the show — have been sanctioned in recent weeks for bad behavior or content at odds with Communist Party values,” Reuters reported at the time.

A rap song by PG One produced before he joined The Rap of China surfaced online in the weeks before his blacklisting. The track referenced recreational drug use and misogyny, which China’s official state press agency, Xinhua, dismissed as “low-taste content” that “does not deserve the stage.”

“Chinese news portal Sina reported on Friday that China’s broadcasting watchdog had said immoral and vulgar content should be kept off the air, including hip-hop — and even tattoos,” Reuters reported in January 2018.

The Communist Party pushed rap and hip hop music competitions off of Chinese television after trying to create, unsuccessfully, its own version of the music genres itself for years to promote party propaganda. The Communist Party’s educational raps, such as “Marx Is a Millenial,” released in May 2016, proved unpopular with Chinese youth.

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