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No Gays, Nothing 'Weird': China's New TV Censorship Rules

A scene from Go Princess Go
A scene from Go Princess Go

BEIJING — "No more homosexuality, extramarital affairs, or one-night stand content in Chinese television drama." Thus reads a general rule published jointly this week by China's Federation of Television Production Committee and the Chinese TV drama production Industry Association, Sina News reported.

The list is extended to anything that is "against scientific spirit," or which "promotes feudal superstitious beliefs," such as spirit possession, witchcraft practices or reincarnation. "Abnormal sexual relations" which "show pornographic and vulgar interests" such as incest, homosexuality, extramarital affairs or one-night stands are also prohibited. Even character portrayal is not allowed to be "weird and exaggerated."

In a country that boasts of having 57 minority groups, also banned from the small screen is anything suspected of "endangering national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity."

This latest news about censorship is, ironically perhaps, everywhere on China's social media. One screenwriter said to the Hong-Kong-based Apple Daily that "Not only has my superior told me that plots about a struggle between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law are politically incorrect, it is also immoral that in my story the mistress eventually wins the struggle with the man's wife."

Just last week, China's regulators took down a several very popular web streaming dramas including Hooked and Go Princess Go. The main theme and content of these online series are all about "Boys' Love" or "BL", a term describing gay-themed fiction, which has in recent years won a particular popularity in China among young women.

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