China has banned effeminate, “sissy” men from appearing on television and streaming platforms as the government tightens its grip on the industry and enforces strict morality rules.
The regulations, issued by the National Radio and Television Administration today, are part of President Xi’s plan for a “national rejuvenation” with tighter Communist Party control of business, education, culture and religion. Broadcasters should avoid promoting “vulgar internet celebrities” and admiration of wealth and celebrity, the regulator said.
Instead, programmes should “vigorously promote excellent Chinese traditional culture, revolutionary culture and advanced socialist culture”. The administration said that “we must firmly boycott abnormal aesthetics such as ‘sissiness’ ” to address what it called “the phenomenon of actors and actresses breaking laws and losing morals”.
The authorities believe that Chinese pop stars, influenced by the sleek look of some South Korean and Japanese singers and actors, are not encouraging China’s young men to be masculine enough. The singer Zhu Zhengting was the target of criticism in 2018 when he appeared on state television with his fair skin, heavy makeup and dyed hair.
All programme providers must now have the “correct aesthetic orientation” when it comes to costumes, make-up and performance styles.
Beijing blames “profit-chasing capitalism” for alleged chaos in the entertainment sector, including “irrational fan culture”. Last month the actor Kris Wu was arrested on suspicion of rape and fans plotted to rescue him by breaking into jail. Others have donated huge sums of money to support their idols.
Last week the actress Zheng Shuang was accused of tax evasion and ordered to pay 299 million yuan, or £33.5 million, in back taxes and fines.
Under the latest edict, any celebrities who break the law or Beijing’s imposed morals should be boycotted by the media. They could also have their earnings capped and be made to submit to education on the Communist Party’s views of journalism and the arts.
The government has also begun anti-monopoly, data security and other campaigns against companies including the games and social media provider Tencent Holding and the e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, which it worries are too big and independent. Rules that took effect yesterday, for example, limit anyone under 18 to three hours a week of online gaming and prohibit it on school days.
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