Tuesday, April 8, 2008

No Weirdness For Chinese Idol

China has their own version of "American Idol". And it's not called "Chinese Idol" because that would make sense. That could explain why it's called "Super Girls", but it still wouldn't explain much. And, just like the name implies, it has only female contestants. But now, with throngs of Chinese males wanting to get in on the act, there is now a show for them as well. Naturally, it's called....."Happy Boys". (For some reason, the word "super" was banned from being in the title. They've also "restricted" the viewing from between May 1 and July 15. I'm guessing it's so people will be paying more attention to all things Olympic-y and paying less attention to all things Paula-y and Simon-y.) Since it's in China, I'm sure it's chock full of lead-y singing goodness! It's also chock full of lots of rules. Let's explore. Happy BoysThe State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) is the group that makes the Chinese Idol rules. (They were going to be the Film And Radio/Television Society, but the acronym was deemed inappropriate.) SARFT has stated (firmly, I'm sure) that "Happy Boys" should include only "healthy and ethically inspiring" songs and try to avoid "gossip" about the contestants and scenes of fans screaming and wailing, or losing contestants in tears." (Well, wait a minute. No gossiping? No wailing? No tearful losers? What? That doesn't sound like "Idol" at all!) SARFT gave notice that the "entire talent show should "maintain a happy atmosphere" and they said that the scenes of "wailing and screaming" consisted of "low taste". Well, of course they do! We're not watching it for the "high taste"! We watch so that we can see a lifetime of dreams shattered in a single instant! That's not high taste at all! What are they doing?! What else have they done?!
Super Girls
To see exactly what SARFT has done, here's a look at all of the requirements and guidelines for "Happy Boys":
  • The minimum age for contestants at 18. Apparently this was done because there were people auditioning for Super Girls who were as young as four. They didn't say that there was an age limit, which I found odd since they had also people auditioning for Super Girls who were 89 years old. (Just having the word "girls" in the title should automatically exclude an 89-year old, don't you think?)

  • On "American Idol", the two contestants with the lowest weekly vote totals stand on stage with Ryan as he tries to build the suspense before announcing which contestant has been eliminated. On "Super Girls" and "Happy Boys" it is basically the same procedure, only they call it the PK. The Player Kill. (How sporting. It does not sound "super", nor "happy".)

  • SAFRT "decreed their hairstyles, clothes, fashion accessories, language and manners should be in line with the mainstream values." (Now when it says "mainstream values" does that include all of the Communism?)

  • SARFT's notice states that there will be "No weirdness, no vulgarity, no low taste." So just regular, clean, high class music? That doesn't sound very entertaining and it certainly doesn't sound like something "happy boys" would participate in. And it would prove to be quite the conundrum for Sanjaya and Danny Noriega, I'm sure.

    Danny NoriegaSanjaya

  • Banned from the competition are "scandal-dogged or controversial artists as judges." (No definition for "scandal-dogged" was given in the release, but I'm pretty sure Paula would be out.)

  • It also prohibited "judges from mocking or humiliating contestants." (With that "no mocking" stipulation there, it's suddenly become clear to me that I will not be a judge on "Chinese Idol".) Judges were also ordered to refrain from "showing off in order to gain popularity".

  • The hosts (ie, Ryan) are "encouraged to talk about contestants' inspiring stories rather than indulge in displays of "low taste". Now, if that happened on American Idol, what in the hell would Ryan have talked to Kellie Pickler about?

  • "Contestants from outside the Chinese mainland" are banned and with no reason given. (I really don't think they're going to have to worry about throngs of "happy boys" from the US trying to weasel their way into Communist China to sing regular, clean music without weirdness.)
Now, "Super Girls" was huge over there and (supposedly) had 400 million viewers tune in the finale of the four-month run in 2005. They also claim that it helped contestants, like winner, Li Yuchun, gain nationwide celebrity. (Of course it's only nationwide celebrity. We can't come in and I have the feeling that they can't go out, either.) The problem was that "Super Girls" drew criticism from all over China for "promoting "vulgarity" and discouraging youngsters from living life practically by providing instant celebrity." Below are the three finalists from "Super Girls". Apparently, the wardrobe guys over there were finally able to find a use for all of those Greg Brady-Johnny Bravo pants left over from "The Brady Bunch."

Super Girls Final Three 2005

The critics, including Liu Zhongde, former vice-minister of culture and a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the NCCPPCC, (OK, even I have to admit that NCCPPCC looks silly.), have described "Super Girls" as "vulgar and degrading" and "that changing taste of viewers indicated declining moral standards." (These criticisms are coming from Communists. Ironic, yes?) Liu also said the show "preached the wrong concept of instant riches and fame". ("Instant riches" sounds like a fabulous concept to me. What's the right concept of "instant riches"? I'm guessing it's everything that they promote it to be and more!) Liu also accused "Super Girls" of "lacking creativity" and he called on the central government to ban the program. Yes, I'm sure that's what the central government of China should be doing. They should be banning TV shows featuring mediocre singers because THAT will make all things in Communist China right with the world.

Hey, wait a minute! I thought there was supposed to be no weirdness!

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