China’s state news agency, Xinhua, reported that the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television announced a ban on the children of celebrities from appearing on reality television.
Aimed at “protecting” minors from being exploited by television executives, many have said the ban was a way for China’s Communist party to uphold its austerity push.
Popular reality television program ‘Baba qu nar?,’ translated as ‘daddy where are we going?,’ – a show about celebrity dads and their kids – was cancelled in line with the new media ban.
Beijing Language and Culture University student Tom Xu was a fan of the program when it was first introduced in 2013.
“Ninety-nine per cent of people knew about and watched this show,” he said.
“People want to know what the lives of celebrities are like, because in normal life we never see this. I followed this show every week because it was so interesting and I was very interested in the celebrities involved.”
The regulations were officially put in place by censors to protect kids from being exploited by television programming, but China Film Insider Beijing correspondent, Fergus Ryan, believes it’s linked to the country’s currently slowing economy.
“There are inevitably losers, who are perhaps not happy with their lives economically, who perhaps have lost their jobs etc. and watching these overt displays of wealth is a little like rubbing their noses in it,” he said.
“There’s a feeling out there among the general population of resentment towards celebrity children, who can just suddenly become celebrities themselves.
The country’s wealth gap is more visible than ever before. Recent years have seen the rise of ‘fu er dai,’ or ‘second generation rich’ whose extravagant lifestyles have been featured on western programs such as the Ultra rich Asian girls of Vancouver.
Since coming to power, President Xi Jinping has pushed an austerity agenda, but that hasn’t stopped ‘fu er dai’ boasting about their luxurious lifestyles on social media.
Last year Wang Sicong, the son of Wang Jianlin, a real estate and entertainment magnate often considered China’s richest man, posted a picture on social media of his pet dog wearing not one, but two, gold Apple watches.
Chinese state media subsequently attacked the 28-year-old for “recklessly disseminates vulgar information” that leads to the “worship of money” and “sex and violence”.
Also last year, seventy young wealthy Chinese were reportedly made to attend government run social responsibility retreats.
Despite being a fan of reality shows, Mr Xu said he understood the government’s reasons for wanting to keep the privileged lives of China’s rich and famous out of view.
“Audiences watching would compare their lives with what they see on screen, and so they would feel it’s unfair and may actually hurt people’s confidence,” he said.
“If people lose hope in society they won’t be so supportive of the government.
So I think that’s actually an important concern of the government, to try to make the economy and society as stable as possible.”