April 14th, 2011
04:39 AM GMT
Hong Kong, China (CNN) – China has been cracking down on dissent of late, as the recent detainment of artist Ai Weiwei suggests.
But the latest guidance on television programming from the State Administration of Radio Film and Television in China borders on the surreal – or, rather, an attack against the surreal.
New guidelines issued on March 31 discourage plot lines 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."
“The government says … TV dramas shouldn’t have characters that travel back in time and rewrite history. They say this goes against Chinese heritage,” reports CNN’s Eunice Yoon. “They also say that myth, superstitions and reincarnation are all questionable.”
The Chinese censors seem to be especially sensitive these days. But for the television and film industry, such strictures would seem to eliminate any Chinese version of “Star Trek,” “The X-Files,” “Quantum Leap” or “Dr. Who.” And does that mean rebroadcast of huge Hollywood moneymakers like “Back to the Future” and the “Terminator” series are now forbidden?
These guidelines will certainly add a creative challenge to Chinese writers, producers and directors. CNN.com’s Dean Irvine wondered how some classic time travel films might be re-imagined minus the time travel:
“Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure”
Two California dudes meet a strange man who used to be a stand-up comic and who directs them to a phone box near the Circle K. They don't travel back in time to find answers for their end of year report; instead the pair make crank calls for 90 minutes and flunk out of school. Wyld Stallyns remain a crap garage band.
“Back to the Future”
Poor Marty McFly, no “Enchantment Under the Sea” dance for him - instead he gets caught up in a local eccentric's plutonium smuggling ring. After witnessing his death at the hands of terrorists, McFly is forced to change his identity and move away from Hill Valley. (At least he escapes his Oedipal complex.)
“The Time Traveler’s Wife”
Despite being told not to talk to strangers, a young Clare Abshire meets a peculiar naked man when out playing in the fields near her family's country estate. A traumatizing experience, she grows up only able to have dysfunctional relationships with men who have a nasty habit of disappearing or running away from her.
Bruce Willis doesn't travel back to Baltimore from a Terry Gilliam post-apocalyptic future – he is just a loony.
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