"Can you hear me now? Good. Here's hoping I don't end up a political prisoner for making this phone call."

In the last several years, Chinese  cinema has seen a sharp uptick in a specific genre: pieces where modern Chinese travel back in time to imperial China. After their arrival, they transition from being an awkward fish out of water to coming to appreciate and often prefer the world their ancestors inhabited.

The Chinese government’s Bureau of Radio, Film and Television has taken issue with this genre and declared it persona non grata. Their statement, from ChinaHush:

“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.”

A disrespect for history is cited, but like these dramas, one must read between the lines to distinguish the true purpose. While intended to be goofy fun, these pieces may actually be construed culturally subversive in their suggestion that despite the technological shortcomings, inconveniences, and hardships experienced in the country’s past, its protagonists are better off than they would be living in modern China. Whether that sentiment is rooted in frustrations with modern technology or civil unrest is moot. As far as the government is concerned, artists are saying something is wrong and unlike ancient martial arts heroes traveling from treetop to treetop, this will not fly.

The reaction to this stateside has been interesting. Most have been sharing the link as a humorous statement on cultural differences. Indeed, it’s pretty wild that a government office would dismiss an entire genre, let alone do so under the precipice of it being too silly. But while we may be amused, there’s nothing funny about the Chinese government’s track record when it comes to the treatment of its artists, writers, and anyone else who deigns to express anything on a large scale that might indicate they are unhappy with the way things are.

Though, to be fair, part of me wishes our government could do the same with romantic comedies. Sorry, Jennifer Aniston, but romantic comedies are silly, not romantic, and definitely not funny. We cannot allow such lies to perpetuate and poison our society.


21 Responses to Chinese government bans time-travel in films, television

  1. Ann says:

    Not surprising for Red China…

  2. texas pynchon says:

    Maybe some stuffed shirt in the Chinese government watched Timecop and realized that any other time travel movie would pale in comparison. The ban was to prevent the national shame that would result from a Chinese film that was inferior to Timecop.

  3. Troy Taxpayer says:

    There is no future in time travel.

  4. EZ says:

    Perhaps the Chinese government has secretly invented time travel, and think that some of the latest films are getting too close to the truth.

  5. GenWar says:

    Wow. Slow news day, eh?

  6. Hal Jordan says:

    The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles better watch out!

    • Hal Jordan – You’re probably referencing the 3rd movie, but I’m going to pretend you’re referencing the 4th installment of the Nintendo Video Games (“Turtles in Time” on the SNES), because that game went hard.

  7. jakester says:

    What the HELL is Boy George doing in a Chinese movie?

  8. Hal Jordan says:

    @ Kevin–
    No game was more difficult than the very first TMNT for the original Nintendo. It still haunts my dreams to this day.

  9. Nick says:

    I finished that game but as a child the amount of time that Dam took me to beat bordered on obsessive

  10. Tony Barbaro says:

    They should go back and put those moving walkways like the airports have on the Great Wall.

  11. Erin Morelli says:

    The real crime here is that they will not be able to watch and enjoy Doctor Who #justsayin

  12. Hal Jordan says:

    If only this had been a story originating from Russia. It is ripe with potential for Yakov Smirnoff jokes!

  13. Hal Jordan says:

    Yeah except replace “time” with “electrical current from car battery” and “you” with “suspected political dissident.”

  14. LM says:

    Truly strange situation.

  15. jakester says:

    Better bone up on your Chinese, we’re all headed for a Chinese food line and I don’t mean PF Chang’s either…

  16. Gray Cat says:

    PF Chang’s is PEOPLE..it’s PEOPLE….

  17. Em says:

    Arguing with the cinema industry and banning films which portray the country in a bad light isn’t exactly going to make China look like a MORE appealing place to live.

    • Em - No, but they don’t have any interest in attracting foreigners, and the rest of the free world has consented to so many human rights transgressions committed by the Chinese over the course of the last several decades that it feels bullet-proof to global criticism. Which, unfortunately, it seemingly is.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>