Gay stories, excessive romance, unscientific fantasy, and narratives that glorify the pre-Communist republican era are reportedly among 20 genres of fiction to be banned or subject to further censorship in China, according to what appears to be new measures emanating from Chinese authorities.
Photos of what appears to be a new directive issued by the National Radio and Television Administration have been widely circulated on Chinese social media platforms Weibo and WeChat over the past few days. However, social media posts containing similar photos from last year are also to be found on the internet. The date and authenticity of the new directives cannot be independently verified.
The directives appear to provide clear instructions on what can and cannot be shown in 20 genres of TV and web drama show. Youth drama, for example, should avoid puppy love, crime, and violence. Romantic dramas should avoid intimacy, but be bold about clashes and conflicts. Fantasy stories will be subject to particular attention and must be told from a scientific perspective.
Time travel stories must be explained with scientific theories and characters involved must be positive and cannot change the course of history. Gay stories are banned and should be replaced with friendship among characters of the same sex.
Dramas that glorify the republican government or warlords in the republican era are to be strictly censored. And crime thrillers will be subject to censorship by the police department. Plots must not reveal how the crimes are solved, though analysis of criminal psychology is allowed. Criminals must be punished. Police cannot be portrayed negatively.
Social media posts containing these pictures have sparked heated discussions online in China. “Puppy love, violence and crime in youth dramas have already been banned, but does it mean they do not exist in reality?,” one post on WeChat questioned. “If the directives are real, then there are no stories left to tell in China’s film and television.”