September 29, 2005

Communication and Culture: China [5:24 pm]

On Chinese Television, What’s Cool Is No Longer Correct [pdf]

At first glance, the new rules handed down by China’s broadcasting authority seemed natural enough in a country where the Communist Party feels duty-bound to set the tone for everything, even pop music.

[...] But also in the latest set of rules, published Sept. 10 by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, was a less obvious stipulation: Masters of ceremony should always use standard Mandarin Chinese and should stop affecting Hong Kong or Taiwanese slang and accents.

To millions of Chinese, particularly boys and girls in the provinces who constitute the main audience for pop-oriented variety shows, Hong Kong and Taiwanese speech has come to mean being cool. The reason is simple. Most of the music and performers making teenage hearts throb here have long originated in the freer atmospheres of Hong Kong and Taiwan.

As a result, some hosts and hostesses of mainland variety shows have taken to throwing Taiwanese slang words and Hong Kong tones into their on-air speech, associating themselves with the cool radiating from those two centers of the Chinese-language pop industry. [...]

And don’t miss the discussion of the consequences of their “American Idol”-style contest — the “Mongolian Cow Sour Yogurt Supergirl Contest.”

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