For a moment, I thought my previous post was the curse: this past Sunday, PPStream ceased broadcasting the reality TV show "If You Are Not Sincere, Don't Bother Me" (非诚勿扰), just three days after my post. Not only that, much to my chagrin, all the previous episodes have also been removed. Then I found an announcement on the PPS website saying they did this to comply with new instructions from The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), issued twice on June 2 and 8. (My ominous post went up on June 9.)
Here is the gist of the SARFT instructions:
Matchmaking TV shows may not let actors, models, program hosts, 'the second generation of the rich,' and 'the successful figures' appear as guests to occupy the screen; may not choose those with disreputable social image or contentious characters as hosts; may not use the name of love or marriage to insult or make personal attacks against participants, or discuss vulgar sexual content ; may not demonstrate or promote unhealthy and incorrect marriage-love views such as mammonism.
Did the bureaucrats at SARFT eat too much and have nothing better to do? What made them issue such superfluous and laughable restrictions on non-political, entertaining, and revealing TV shows? Rumor has it that Ma Nuo, one of the earlier female guests in "If You Are Not Sincere," triggered the shot. Ma Nuo's most infamous quote circling on the internet is "I'd rather cry in a BMW" – her reply to a male guest, a cyclist, who asked if she'd like to ride a bike with him. (But Baidu has a post that says what she actually said was "a BMW is rather cool." In Chinese, "cry" (哭) and "cool" (酷) sound pretty much the same.) Because of this, Ma Nuo's name has become a synonym of "mammonism," and been attacked by numerous netizens. And this, apparently, became the motive to restrict "the second generation of the rich" to participate in matchmaking shows.
Deng Xioaping, the "father of reform and opening," promulgated the notion that "being rich is glorious." No more, I guess, but wouldn't it be more effective to simply order "the rich" to stay single, or have a "zero-child policy" for them and their children?
Not surprisingly, the hypocritical call is met with hypocritical responses. So far all the TV stations running a matchmaking show have made sonorous echoes that they "firmly advocate SARFT's instructions," while each and every one of them says they have nothing to do with the criticism. The shows continue; only we overseas audiences are deprived the pleasure of watching them at PPStream's mercy.
Times have certainly changed. It seems like those outside of China can be more strongly influenced by the edicts of Beijing than those inside. The government can continue to issue superfluous instructions that are not sincere, just don't expect everyone to be bothered as much as PPStream.