Chinese censorship revealed
There have been a number of stories regarding Chinese censorship of late, and most stemming from the banning of imported films and Ang Lee's Lust, Caution, but the most surprising has been about the revealing of the rules behind the Chinese government censors and thei behaviour towards one actress from Lee's film.
The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television published their rules for censoring films, just around the time that they issued memos to broadcasters and publishers essentially putting a halt to the career of actress Tang Wei in her own country.
One of the issues that those in the the film industry have with the Chinese market is that they don't have a rating system, none at all. Anyone can go and see any film, and that's one reason why there is so much censorship on even the smallest of details, because every film has to be equivalent to an MPAA Universal certificate.
Variety carries a comment from Liu Binjie, director of the General Administration of Press and Publications as to what implementing a ratings system in the country would mean.
“Under the current circumstances, a film rating system equals legalizing the mass production of pornographic publications”
That's one hell of a statement, and something I would expect only to hear from some religious group in the U.S. complaining about the latest film release.
However the Chinese film-makers and audience believe differently and have been asking for a ratings system for sometime, however it doesn't look as though this will happen any time soon.
So what is exactly banned? Well the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television have opened up the usually rather secretive censorship reasoning and published it for all to see.
The overview of the released details comes through MonkeyPeaches and Twitch, and it makes for interesting reading. Sure it stars off tough, but then it gets down to some serious liberties that we take for granted.
“The following are prohibited in films:
1. Violations against the fundamental principle of the Constitution;
2. Threats against the national unification and the integrity of the (national) sovereignty and (national) territory.
3. Leaking of national secrets, violation against the national security and harming the national honors and national interests.
4. Inciting ethic hatred and ethic discrimination, harming ethnic solidarity of ethic groups, and volition of ethic customs and traditions;
5. Volition of the national policies on religions and preaching cult believes and superstitions;
6. Disturbing social orders and harming the social stability;
7. Promoting obseneness, gambling and violence and abetting crimes;
8. Humiliating or slandering other individuals and violating legal rights and interests of other individuals;
9. Harming social morality and playing down good national cultural heritages;
10. Others which prohibited by relevant national laws and regulations.
The following must be deleted or altered:
1. Misinterpretation of Chinese cultural and Chinese history, severely deviating the historical facts, misinterpretation of other countries?histories; disrespecting other countries?cultures, customs and traditions; dispraising revolutionary leaders, heroes and important historical figures; falsifying famous Chinese and foreign literature works and the portraying of important figures of the literature works;
2. Maliciously dispraising the image of the People? Liberation Army, the Armed Police, the police and the justice entities;
3. Contents of obsceneness, pornography and bad-tastes, depicting scenes of prurience, sexual violations, prostitution, solicitation, sexual activities, sexual perversion, homosexuality, masturbation, etc.; and the sexual organs and other private parts of men and women; contents of indecent and bad-tasting dialogues, songs, background music and sound effects;
4. Contents of murders, violence, horrors, ghosts and demons, supernaturalism, etc; value orientations confusing the real and the fake, the innocent and the evil, and the beautiful and the ugly; confusing the basic natures of the righteous and the non-righteous; deliberately depicting the terror of criminal activities, depicting the details of criminal actives, exposing special techniques of criminal investigations; plots with murders, bloodiness, violence, drug-taking, gambling (etc.), which are strongly stimulating; plots of torturing of POWs, torturing criminals, suspects, etc. to extort confessions; shots, dialogues, background music or sound effects, which are overly horrifying;
5. Preaching negative and decadent philosophies, opinions of the world and values; deliberately glamorizing and exaggerating the ignorance and backward development of various ethic groups or the dark side of the society;
6. Preaching religious extremism, inciting the tension and conflict between religions, religious sects as well as religious believers and non-religious believers, which harm the feelings of the public;
7. Preaching destroying the environment, torturing of animals, poaching and eating nationally protected animals;
8. Overly depicting alcoholism, tobacco smoking and other bad habits;
9. Violating of the principles of relevant law and regulations.”
Once you get through that you really do begin to wonder just what they can actually show.
It doesn't stop at just the films themselves though. Tang Wei is the actress who appeared in Ang Lee's film Lust, Caution (Se, jie) has upset the Chinese authorities. In fact it has not only upset them but they're taking action against it.
According to Variety she appeared in a skin cream commercial which was set to be aired across the country until the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television sent a memo to the media companies and told them to remove it.
This move seems very strange considering that the Chinese censors allowed Lust, Caution to be shown with only seven minutes cut from the film.
So the eight hundred thousand dollar deal that Tang Wei signed with Pond for endorsement of their products seems to have done two things, resulted in their adverts being banned in China and worldwide press on the subject.
That's not the end of it though, Twitch also have the news that Tang Wei is being banned from Chinese media across the board, not just for her face cream advert. Due to the explicit nature of the film she is now being blacklisted from future work and both her and the film are being removed from Chinese award shows and websites.
The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television really do have a lot of power over there, and it appears her Chinese career is effectively over.
That's how powerful the Chinese government are, and what lengths they will go to in order to ensure a film is banned, whether it be down to their issues over the erotic content of the film or its portrayal of people's choices and actions during the war.
Without a doubt we should be thankful for just how easy we have it in the west, but at the same time we need to be aware ot the harsh censorship in other countries, talk about it openly, and try and ensure that such politicised and targeted censorship is a thing of the past.