The peace-loving government of the People’s Republic of China has apparently chosen a new enemy: Science Fiction.
New guidelines from the Chinese government forbid plots that contain elements of:
fantasy, time-travel, random compilations of mythical stories, bizarre plots, absurd techniques, even propagating feudal superstitions, fatalism and reincarnation, ambiguous moral lessons, and a lack of positive thinking.
CNN outlined a few of the big movies that can no longer be shown in freedom loving China.
But, let’s really think about how far this censorship is going.
A good chunk of television, movies, and books contain some form of fantasy. Look at how huge the Harry Potter franchise and the Twilight Saga are. Magic and vampires are definitely within the boundaries of fantasy. And, of course, in Star Wars, the ability to control the force is a fantasy power, so no Jedi or Sith is allowed in China. Should we even mention Dragons? Those are extremely common in Chinese culture.
Time Travel has been a commonly-discussed part of society, since, at the very least, the publishing of The Time Traveller. Temporal travel has become a favourite concept in the Star Trek series. As well, Terminator is based on it. 7 Days, a show I used to enjoy when it was on the air, couldn’t have happened without it. And, one of my favourite shows of all time, Stargate: SG1, used it more than a few times, as did its progeny Stargate Atlantis.
Even better are the Chinese government’s phrases like “bizarre plots”, “absurd techniques”, “ambiguous moral lessons”, and “a lack of positive thinking”. Those are so vague and all-encompassing that anything at anytime could be banned simply because a censor felt like it. Even kids shows feature all of those.
We, as humans, enjoy twists in our stories. While we may really want the happy ending, we are totally accepting when evil does win a bit, or even when someone dies. As much as we enjoy our fiction, it never works without reality being entwined with it.
The worst part of the Chinese government’s attack here is the target. This is not just a goal of keeping people from enjoying themselves. The real target here is imagination. If people can no longer imagine a world where Marty McFly can travel Back to The Future; or a land where men, orcs, dwarfs, elves, hobbits, and wizards can fight in a war over a single ring; or force people with lightsabers to duel over the fate of a galaxy far far away; then they could lose the ability to imagine themselves as free men.
As Americans, this should be more than a joking matter. This is a truly serious issue. Our government already censors what we can watch, hear, and read. Lately, they have been aiming at controlling the internet as well. Do you really think that those who want that control, wouldn’t love to make it so all we could see, hear, and feel was puppies, rainbows, and unicorns?
We need to pay attention now, and make sure our government never gets close to limiting us so much.