Happy boys to replace Supergirls in China
China Photos/Getty Images Despite official protests about its “vulgarity” and “low-brow” appeal and speculations that the show would have to be axed, China’s version of American Idol has been given state approval for a 2007 season. The twist this year, though, is that the show has been renamed to “Happy Boy Voices,” and all the ...
China Photos/Getty Images
Despite official protests about its “vulgarity” and “low-brow” appeal and speculations that the show would have to be axed, China’s version of American Idol has been given state approval for a 2007 season. The twist this year, though, is that the show has been renamed to “Happy Boy Voices,” and all the contestants will be male. The first two seasons, called “Supergirl” (obviously an all female competition), were enormously successful—watched by almost a third of China’s 1.3 billion population. The reason for the change of focus to men is unclear, though it may have something to do with TV producers wanting to replicate the popularity of Shanghai TV’s reality show “My Hero,” in which “good-looking lads flex their muscles, sing songs, apply hairspray and resolve crunching moral dilemmas” according to The Independent. (This is not to be confused with a controversial online gay TV show being produced in Hong Kong.)
So why isn’t the show called “Superboy,” then? Some Chinese have speculated it’s because the word “super” apparently contains more provocative connotations (though why that would not apply equally to women remains a mystery). Others believe that the government may be trying to dilute the brand name. That wouldn’t be all the government is trying to dilute. Reuters reports today that the government’s broadcasting watchdog has issued a list of rules for the contest, which mandate choosing songs that are “healthy and ethically inspiring.” The show must also demonstrate “[n]o weirdness, no vulgarity and no low taste,” and that dress, hair and make-up are done in a manner consistent with the “aesthetic values of the masses.” Given the text-messaging voting “frenzy” seen in previous competitions and the success of public involvement with the show, the likely explanation for this level of scrutiny is that the Chinese government fears any kind of outburst of social organizing that it cannot control, whether explicitly political or not.
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