China bans reality talent shows

China banned reality talent programmes on Thursday and ordered broadcasters to promote more masculine representations of men, in a wide-ranging crackdown on “immoral” pop culture Beijing believes is leading young people astray.

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Talent shows that put hundreds of aspiring young performers through rigorous boot camps and subject them to public votes have become massively popular in China, sparking criticism over obsessive fans and poor role models.

“Broadcast and TV institutions must not screen idol development programmes or variety shows and reality shows,” China’s broadcast regulator, the National Radio and Television Administration said.

The regulator ordered broadcasters to resist “abnormal aesthetics” such as “sissy” men, “vulgar influencers,” stars’ inflated pay and performers with “lapsed morals.”

Faced with falling birth rates, Chinese authorities have tried to instil traditional masculine values in the youth by ramping up gym classes and criticising male entertainers who model the effeminate looks of Korean pop idols.

Instead, broadcasters were urged to “strongly promote outstanding traditional Chinese culture… and advanced socialist culture.”

Popular Chinese blogger Feng Xiaoyi had his account suspended by Douyin — China’s version of TikTok — last week for “promoting unhealthy values,” after some users complained about his “sissy” videos.

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