Disregarding the Youth
Disregarding the youth’s desire for freedom of expression, China opts to censor a burgeoning hip hop culture.
Censorship in China has continuously drawn attention from progressive Western media. The country has already been reprimandable for its restrictive internet usage seeped in censorship.
A few years ago the “Great Firewall” of China was implemented in order to block Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and various other social apps and websites.
It appears as though China’s government is ultimately terrified of its citizens developing true freedom of speech and creative expression. Exemplifying this, China’s new law enforcement has brought the government’s censorship legislation to the forefront of public criticism.
China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People’s Republic of China (SAPPRFT) has enforced a law stating that TV programmes should not ‘feature actors with tattoos, depict hip-hop culture, sub-cultures or decadent culture’.
The law suggests that the country should not provide platforms for people ‘whose heart and morality are not aligned with the party and whose morality is not noble’. The new legislation ultimately disregards public opinion - once again.
Hip-hop culture has become increasingly popular in China, so it is unsurprising that there has been an uproar regarding the new legislation. The censorship of hip-hop culture has already affected platforms for numerous artists, including the prominent rapper GAI from Hunan TV’s ‘Singer.’ Albeit the singer was popular, GAI was removed from China Hunan TV’s official YouTube Channel, with no official explanation given.
In a recent article on Reuters, Li Yijie, a patriotic rapper with government-backed band Tianfu Shibian, said that regulators weren’t blacklisting the genre as a whole, but that recent scandals meant “some institutions, firms, TV stations and the public had lost confidence in hip-hop.”
It’s evident that the media is working with the government in its intentions to display the genre in all it’s negative conventions, without providing a balanced argument to Chinese citizens.
Hip-hop has only recently become a thriving genre in China and its eastern-lifespan is appearing to be cut short. The Global times’ paper stated that Hip-Hop was a “tool for people to vent their anger, misery, complaints” and therefore did not suit China and “cannot thrive” here.
The fear that Hip-hop culture may influence the youth to adopt negative and disruptive behavioral characteristics, has led the party to make the abrupt decision. A recurring point comes to mind that always crops up when Hip-Hop is the subject matter: when will authority recognise that the genre is simply a product of the environment in which it is being written? Censorship is based on prohibiting products that are a threat to security, yet Hip-Hop is simply a reflection of its environment.
West Coast and East Coast rap is different; and even further from UK rap. In a similar manner, Chinese rappers, embedding their own culture in their lyricism, composing their own brand of Hip-Hop unique to their politically fraught situation. I truly believe this is simply another unprecedented attack on Hip-Hop without regard to its positive aspects and understanding its origins. Although the ban was controversial and shocking to some, it appears that many Chinese rappers were not surprised. Rappers such as Bohan Phonex have outlined that “It isn’t a huge deal.
It’s banned from national television but China is all mobile anyway, so I think hip-hop can thrive just as well without TV.”
It is well-recognised within the culture that Hip-Hop is generally globally opposed by authoritative bodies, and has been throughout the era’s.
However, with the youth in China clamouring for freedom of creative expression, I find it almost inevitable that the government will receive backlash for its censorship, as the ban of Hip-Hop is solely a way of preserving traditionalism without progression.
Beginning as an underground culture, Hip Hop’s DIY nature has continuously enabled it to thrive in to the mainstream. For this reason, it’s almost impossible to assume that China’s new TV legislation will prohibit the culture altogether.
Words: Roisin O ‘Hare