In a rare move one of China’s censors has gone on the record to explain why popular TV drama “The Empress of China” was ordered off air for a re-edit.
Tian Jin, deputy director of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, said Wednesday that the show contained “unhealthy images.”
The period drama starring Fan Bingbing as the country’s only known empress, Wu Zetian, ran on satellite channel Hunan TV from Dec. 21 before it was taken off. When it reappeared on Jan. 1 many full-length and mid-length shots had been closely cropped to become headshots, eliminating the cleavage-revealing dresses that were the fashion of Wu’s era.
The re-edit provoked howls of criticism online that the industry regulators are absurdly over-protective. Before and after shots revealed that many of Fan’s multiple costume changes were rendered invisible.
It also sparked renewed calls for a rating system that would allow film distributors and broadcasters to clearly target their shows at specific audience segments. Currently China operates a system where all content is supposed to be suitable for all age groups and categories of society.
Typically China’s broadcast regulators do not comment on decisions, They often leave rules vague and encourage film makers to err on the side of caution.
Tian specifically blamed a “lack of editing” of the show and said that “punishment was given in accordance with the law.”
“Our artistic works, films and TV dramas should all promote China’s core values and pass on positive energy and good and true ideas,” Tian said.