China bans time travel

Beijing is taking action against an increasingly popular genre on Chinese television. From the China Hush blog:  In these time-travel based TV plays, usually the protagonist is from the modern time and for some reasons and via some means, travels through time and all the way back to the ancient China where he/she will constantly ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
555568_110411_back-future-62.jpg
555568_110411_back-future-62.jpg

Beijing is taking action against an increasingly popular genre on Chinese television. From the China Hush blog: 

In these time-travel based TV plays, usually the protagonist is from the modern time and for some reasons and via some means, travels through time and all the way back to the ancient China where he/she will constantly experience the "culture shock" but gradually get used to it and eventually develop a romance in that era. Though obviously the Chinese audience is fond of this genre of shows, the country’s authority -General Bureau of Radio, Film and Television, to be exact, is not happy about this trend and calls a halt to the making of this type of drama.[...]

The authority’s decision was made on the Television Director Committee Meeting on April 1st. – but obviously it’s not a prank to fans of the drama genre. The authority has a good reason to go against the genre. "The time-travel drama is becoming a hot theme for TV and films. But its content and the exaggerated performance style are questionable. Many stories are totally made-up and are made to strain for an effect of novelty. The producers and writers are treating the serious history in a frivolous way, which should by no means be encouraged anymore."

Beijing is taking action against an increasingly popular genre on Chinese television. From the China Hush blog: 

In these time-travel based TV plays, usually the protagonist is from the modern time and for some reasons and via some means, travels through time and all the way back to the ancient China where he/she will constantly experience the “culture shock” but gradually get used to it and eventually develop a romance in that era. Though obviously the Chinese audience is fond of this genre of shows, the country’s authority -General Bureau of Radio, Film and Television, to be exact, is not happy about this trend and calls a halt to the making of this type of drama.[…]

The authority’s decision was made on the Television Director Committee Meeting on April 1st. – but obviously it’s not a prank to fans of the drama genre. The authority has a good reason to go against the genre. “The time-travel drama is becoming a hot theme for TV and films. But its content and the exaggerated performance style are questionable. Many stories are totally made-up and are made to strain for an effect of novelty. The producers and writers are treating the serious history in a frivolous way, which should by no means be encouraged anymore.”

The New Yorker‘s Richard Brody suggests that what’s making censors uncomfortable, is less what these dramas say about China’s history, than what they imply about its present:

What the Chinese time-travel plots, as described above, have in common is the notion of escape: leaving contemporary, Communist-dominated China for the China of another era, one where, despite mores that are, in some ways, odd and outdated, love and happiness can be found. Time travel serves here as a dream of freedom from present-day strictures—or simply as a cry for freedom, from precisely this kind of idiotic and despotic regulation.

Variety reports that several remakes of classic texts and Western-style cop shows have also been put on hold.

Hat tip: Frank Chi

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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