News / Asia

A Controversial End for Super Girl in China

Fans of Chinese singer Li Yu-chun, Super Girl's Voice 2005 winner, show their support during an event in Hong Kong, Dec. 24, 2005, file photo.
Fans of Chinese singer Li Yu-chun, Super Girl's Voice 2005 winner, show their support during an event in Hong Kong, Dec. 24, 2005, file photo.
Alice Liu

One of the most popular TV programs in China has been cancelled, again. The removal of Super Girl (快乐女声) from the airwaves has caused a stir on Chinese microbloging sites.

The show was an American Idol type TV program started in China in 2004 by state TV in southern Hunan province.

After a three year suspension, it was re-launched in 2009 as “Happy Girl” in Chinese (even though it was still called Super Girl in English). But last month (September, 2011), the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) ordered the show to stop broadcasting.

The reasons for the cancellation are varied, depending on who you ask. The official reason is the show was too long.  But many commenters are pointing to the show's use of an audience text voting system for the contestants and what some Chinese officials have called the "vulgar" use of young women singing pop songs.

A clip from the final broadcast:

A sample of the online reaction to the show’s cancellation.

Sina weibo user Dajiabai longmenzhen said: “The reasoning of the management behind the stopping “Happy Girl” include: 1. You must listen to us, and comply with our regulations (whether it’s reasonable or not), otherwise the consequences will be severe; 2. Whatever you do, make sure your program isn’t the best, just average, otherwise others will be unhappy, affecting social stability and harmony."

快女停播背 后隐含的管理思路包括:1.一定要听我的,服从管理规定(不管是否合理),否则后果很严重;2.千万不要做到最好,做得一般优秀就成了,否则别人会不舒 服,影响社会稳定和谐;

Baidu’s Super Girl postbar user qq920966254 said: “Stupid idiots, stop broadcasting Super Girl for one year, why not get the person who ordered it to stop broadcasting to go plow fields for a year! If we don’t have “Happy Girl” and “Happy Boy” I’d be bored to death during the summer. It has seriously overrun its time slot, but you can broadcast the show earlier!"

麻痹的,停播一年,那不如叫那个停播的人去耕田耕一年去吧!没了快男快女生活夏天无聊死了,虽然说是严重超时,但是可以提早播放啊!鄙视停播的人,以为自己官大就可以无视我们这些青少年,如果觉得我说的对就顶我吧!

Sina weibo user Xiaoxiaolu said: “Happy Girl” is going to stop broadcasting. I’ve seen many netizens’ comments saying that it should have stopped a long time ago; if this kind of contest can be broadcasted, then Adult Videos should be broadcasted as well. What is a reality show competition? It’s just a shortcut to realizing the vanity of people who are greedy and lazy: crappy programs are teaching the audience the wrong lessions."

快女停播咯,看到很多网友的评论是早就该停了;这种选秀能播,av也能播了;选秀是啥?就是好吃懒做的人实现虚荣心满足的捷径;烂节目把观众都教坏了

Sina weibo user Limited Edition – Zhan said: “Happy Girl will stop broadcasting, yeah!”

快女停播,好野!

Xinhua, China’s state news network, reports a show that “promotes moral ethics, public safety and provide practical information for housework” would be replacing Super Girl.

Meng Jing, a popular entertainment reporter associated with Sanlian Life Weekly (三联生活周刊), a current affairs and culture magazine, spoke to me online about the program being censored by SARFT. “Super Girl was the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of Hunan TV’s entertainment programming. But Hunan TV had their own problems as well,” she said.

I talked with Adele Huang, an editor at Hunan TV, about the quality of the show.  When asked if the show had gotten weaker since 2005, she said “It really did get worse. It’s hard to talk about the two periods in the same breath.”

In conservative circles, Super Girl contestants were still viewed as source of moral corruption for youth. The lives and deeds of Super Girl contestants have been chronicled by Chinese netizens, who are not always supportive.

In one example, bikini photos of 2005 contestant Chen Yi (陈怡) were spread online after she tried to break into the entertainment industry in Japan.

The most popular winner of all time, Li Yuchun (李宇春) started an androgynous, or sexually neutral, haircut fad for girls and became a lesbian sex symbol. This was another aspect of the show’s  supposedly “corrupting” influence.

Similarly, plastic surgery scandals meant that SARFT was eager for Hunan TV to give themselves their own facelift.

Wang Bei (王贝) was a contestant on Super Girl in 2004. News emerged in 2011 that she died while undergoing cosmetic surgery to help her enter the entertainment industry. Her death shocked the nation and renewed not just the debate on cosmetic surgery, but also on the nature of Super Girls.

Controversy has plagued other popular Chinese TV programs like Jiangsu TV’s dating show If You Are The One (非诚勿扰) where the appearance of a model named Ma Nuo sparked an online as well as real campaign against “money worshipping girls.”

Meng Jing blames Hunan TV and the industry around Super Girl. “They can’t digest all the people who are involved in it. It’s an awkward competition. Afterward, the contestants have very hard lives. In 2007, our magazine concluded that only five contestants ended up having commercial value in the long run,” she said.

She pointed to Yi Hui (易慧), who was booked for commercial appearances after she came in  eighth in 2005. Meng Jing said the young woman went from earning 50,000 yuan per performance to less than 500 yuan per show.

Many younger Chinese TV viewers now prefer to watch Qinghai TV’s Blossoming Flowers (花儿朵朵), and Liaoning TV’s Chinese X Factor (激情唱响), which are both new programs.

Meng Jing told me “The life cycle of a singing show with contestants in China is only five years at most.” It’s no surprise that people are willing to switch over their allegiances so quickly. With the show making a loss in both advertising and audience numbers, and with a top to bottom official system that wanted to “cleanse” its entertainment programs, there was nowhere to go but to close up shop.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More