Category: Weird Articles
Published on Monday, 19 January 2015 00:00
Nearing the end of December, a popular television series, 武媚娘传奇, chronicling China's most famous empress suddenly stopped screening for 4 days. When it returned on New Year's Day, fans of the show were in for an unpleasant viewing experience; the low cut necklines, cleavages, and squeezed boobs were gone.
It is not the lack of boobies that makes for a terrible viewing experience (but I'm sure some males will tend to disagree with this), it's the awkward cropping of the scenes. Now the show is filled with close up shots showing only the heads of the female characters from their breasts up, and it is really annoying in the sense that the proportions are all wrong.
The show set in the seventh-century Tang Dynasty was an era when a woman's beauty was defined by her plumpness, so the squeezed boobs really did play a role in the show.
No one has owned up to the awkward cropping, but it is widely speculated that it could be attributed to China's prudish censors.
The changes have drawn a wave of mockery from the public fed up with ham-handed censorship. Fans of the show bombarded social media with complaints and jokes, with some posting cropped photos of celebrities and drawings that add in the missing cleavages to show the absurdity of the cuts. It was not a public issue, but has become one after shameless officials wielded their powerful administrative powers, Ren Zhiqiang, a businessman who has been outspoken on social issues, wrote on his microblog. What people are concerned about is not cleavage, but that a bunch of cultural hooligans are in charge of making approvals.
Calls to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television were unanswered Thursday and Friday. The administration does not always issue its decrees publicly, issuing its orders instead directly to publishers and producers.
In recent years, the regulating agency has issued a series of edicts, saying TV programming should be wholesome and avoid smutty material that would corrupt social morals. It has banned plots that involve one-night stands, wife-swapping, female protagonists falling in love with more than one man and the use of sex in military espionage.
Strangely enough, authorities have also banned plots with time travel, a move they say is aimed at preserving historical integrity.
The risque necklines in The Empress of China were the latest images to fall under the agency's cleaver.
The 80-episode series tells the story of Wu Zetian, who was a concubine to a Tang emperor but ascended to the apex of power and ruled officially under her self-proclaimed Zhou Dynasty. She is apparently the only woman in records to rule China in her own right and has been the protagonist of many television and film productions.
The empress was played by Fan Bing Bing, a rising star who has appeared in the 2014 Hollywood blockbuster X-Men.
The series has lavish costumes with the low necklines believed to have been commonplace in the age of Wu, and all 80 episodes already had been produced when the changes were imposed after 17 episodes were aired.
In one survey by the industry research group Zero Power Intelligence, nearly 40 percent say the cuts were too prudish, though another quarter of the 13,768 respondents said the show was now appropriate for all ages.
The hubbub prompted at least two Communist Party-run newspapers this week to call for the introduction of ratings into Chinese television programs and films.
If there were ratings, then The Empress of China would not need the redo, the Liaoning Daily wrote. Now it has re-emerged with the bosoms covered up, yet the coy attitude has become an even bigger joke.
The party-run Henan Daily said that while the show was now suitable for all ages, it has lost its edge.
Shi Shusi, a Beijing-based commentator, called it another example of the abuse of power. It is absurd that the authorities should make such a ruling just because a few old cadres are upset with The Empress of China, he said. He suggested that it is time the people put powers in a cage so there will be sensible decision-making and management to prevent such a farce from happening again.