Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Corrupting Our Youth One Sing Contest At A Time, and Time-Travelling Still Possible

Super girl, o boy o boy!

In the year 399 BC, Socrates was sentenced to death by drinking a cup of Hemlock, because he corrupted the youth. In hind sight we hold his contribution to educate the population in high esteem. How will our progeny judge a TV programme such as Super Girl? At least now the creators of this programme are affected by a similar criticism that once hit Socrates: "vulgar, manipulative, poison for our youth". Read more here.

"I don't want to be vulgar ...

"Market access ban is the modern hemlock cup"
The Death of Socrates 
Jacques-Louis David 1787
We can debate about whether the ever o so impressionable youth can spend their time wiser (hurray for programmes about "practical information about house work"). But especially in a stressful hyper competitive society as China's, people also grave for some entertainment after a day chock-full of study or work. I think the more choice the better. Hopefully then the audiences gravitate toward higher quality. State Administration for Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) might not be in the best position to be a media critique. And it might be better if the government sticks to facilitating the preconditions for culture to blossom, which includes providing a varied TV programmes schedule with uplifting but also entertaining programmes. Therefore, and based on China's WTO commitments, China should give market access to foreign TV and film providers. Limiting them market access does not only harm foreign media providers (it does also indirectly, because it creates a huge demand for pirated works). It also harms Chinese audiences that miss out on good programmes and Chinese media providers that are not stimulated to meet high international standards.

... but I support their freedom of being vulgar."

I am quoting my colleague Tan Fugui, who inspired by Voltaire said this to me after reading this article. Tan Fugui adds: "a precondition, people have freedom of being vulgar as long as they dont penetrate other peoples right territory, for example, not involving outsider's privacy etc."

Must be harsh for American Idols producers to see that even their knock-off version is kept off the tube.
Read my 2005! blog post about the American Idols knock-off with Chinese characteristics, here.
Read my 2006 blog post about copyright allegations against Super Girl's producer here.

Time-travelling to Alternate Reality

Do you remember that SARFT forbid time-travelling, read here. Well, last weekend I went to the movies in CoCo Park, Shenzhen. And it seems that time-travelling is still possible ..., at least in the movie Source Code.

Spoiler alert
Via "Source Code" Captain Colter Stevens is in the body of Sean Fentress during the last 8 minutes of his life, just before a train blew up. With Source Code and some alleged quantum mechanics, that creates an alternate reality he is able to visit this last 8 minutes many times (using the memory of someone who is technically dead) in order to find who is behind the terrorist attack, so that this information can prevent future attacks. Stevens find a way to alter at least one parallel universe and is able to save the people on the train and can even contact the people of the control centre at Source Code via SMS.
End spoiler alert

The prohibition of time-travelling is to prevent to mislead or confuse uneducated people. Or is it because the future can be changed by going back in time? Or that future projections of many a science-fiction work (such as George Orwell's Nineteen Eigthy-Four which he wrote in 1949) is a kind of critique of contemporary society? But this could happen in a parallel society such as Avatar (that was blocked in 2-D, not 3-D, read here). But why stop there: one can start to interpret the Smurfs (very popular in China) as social criticism. Maybe Source Code slipped through the censor because it is too far fetched even for the credulous and gullible.

1 comment:

Tanfugui_hk_2010 said...

SARFT has made ridiculous criteria for identifying "three vulgar phenomenon". they forbade TV programmes, websites,but cant stop people cracking the firewalls. SARFT certainly makes itself a target of joke and criticism.