Apr 8 2011 1:52pm

China Bans Time Travel Stories on April 1st, But Isn’t Joking

China bans time travelThe present future just got a tiny bit more weird. According to China features blog ChinaHush, the General Bureau of Radio, Film and Television have decreed that no more stories potraying time travel can be made or aired in the country. The decision was made in a Television Director Committee Meeting on April 1st.

The reasoning, in a statement translated by 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.

According to ChinaHush, this is possibly in reaction to the growing popularity of time-travel romances cropping up in China’s television programming. The Bureau also decreed that no more adaptations of China’s Four Great Classical Novels can be produced, as well, citing fatigue of the source material.

Although we can all cite fiction tropes that we’d like to see banned for a little while, it’s always interesting, and in many cases absolutely frustrating, to hear of a government action against something conceptual. In a way, it underscores yet again how consistently science fiction tropes we grow up eventually wriggle their way out into the real world.


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Tim Buller
1. samzo77
This is unfortunate. I love the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and we were just starting to get some good renditions of it.
2. brentodd
"Many stories are totally made-up"? So... many, but not all?

Do they know something we don't?
Jason Henninger
3. jasonhenninger
Will the ban affect the current production of Journey to the West, ya spose?

P.S. This is whole thing is bonkers. Was the National People's Congress really upset about Lost or something?
4. Flatt
Decided on April 1st? This has to be a joke.
5. rogerothornhill
@3, so you're saying it's just another example of Da Man trying to keep Da GaiMan down?
James Whitehead
6. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
Except that the Chinese central government has never been know for having a sense of humour; although I do hope it is an April Fool's joke this time.

The authorities must be afraid of 'what if' stories coming out where Mao didn't win or where the protagonists go back to fix something in China's past. Or simply they really do feel the 'fictionalisation' of China's 'serious history' isn't acceptable.

I do like, however, the idea of banning the use of 'tired' material in TV & film. Maybe we could convince Hollywood to do the same? ;-)

7. N. Mamatas
Can we ban sitcoms in which a fat loudmouth husband has an inexplicably attractive wife?
Tristan Elwell
8. Elwell
We have to go back in time and stop this order from ever having been issued!
James Whitehead
9. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
@7N. Mamatas, right there with you. I'd also add the ones where the adults are too dumb to drool.

10. kid_greg
Hey you think this could have anything to do with the new "re-make" of Red Dawn that's coming out?
Because instead of the Soviets invading, in the new one, its China.
11. N. Mamatas
Actually, the Red Dawn remake now features an invasion by the North Koreans, because China is a very large market for films.
Ashley Fox
12. A Fox
This really is quite hilarious, awful in terms of arts freedom of forms, but hilarious.
Amy G. Dala
13. amygdala11
They should implement a rolling imposition of overused ideas, say for five years. Given the current desire for time-traveling and Romance of the Three Kingdoms stories, there will still be a desire in five years, and then perhaps they won't feel stale!
14. Alasdair Czyrnyj
What an odd pronouncement. It reminds me of certain prohibitions that were made on sf back in the Soviet Union. At various times, there was a hostile climate against stories that dealt with time travel or with artificial intelligence in any rigorous fashion. I'm not entirely sure what the rationale behind this was; probably another of those ideological battles everyone has forgotten. Of course, you don't need to be Karl Capek to figure out a way to use those two tropes to satirize society in a way that'll offend the Powers That Be, and doubtless said Powers could figure that out too.
15. slanagat
Perhaps they just want rewriting history to suit the needs of the moment to be the sole province of the government.
16. TCWriter
It's interesting that science fiction -- the fiction of ideas -- would be perceived as a threat to a government who isn't big on original thought.

It seems like a silly ban, though I probably *would* support a worldwide ban on reality TV, paranomral YA fiction and any article featuring Lindsay Lohan...

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