Celebrity kids should be kept out of spotlight

By Wang Xiaonan Source:Global Times Published: 2016-4-18 19:53:01

The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio Film and Television (SAPPRFT) issued a recent notice that it will guide and regulate reality shows and ban those starring the children of celebrities. According to the circular, major television stations should strictly prohibit minors from participating in reality shows and halt hyping and packaging children of celebrities in entertainment programs in case that they rise to fame overnight.

Under the new restriction, Hunan Television will stop producing and broadcasting Where Are We Going, Dad?, one of the most popular reality shows enrapturing a wide Chinese audience. And Zhejiang Television will end a similar series named Dad Is Back.

Take Where Are We Going, Dad?. Since it debut in October 2013, the show, featuring adorable kids as well as their interactions with a young generation of bumbling but loving celebrity fathers, has gained nationwide fame. With viewer ratings as high as 75 million every Friday, it is a stand-out among the dozens of competing and ever-popular reality TV shows. It seems a pity that the series has been abruptly cancelled just before starting its fourth season.

The new regulation of SAPPRFT has sparked quite a controversy online. A number of Net users expressed vehement objection to the circular, denouncing the administration for making an irrational decision to stop parent-child reality shows from being aired.

"The shows are very appealing to me! I could hardly concentrate on other programs for more than half an hour!" "These episodes are entertaining, relaxing and sometimes healing!" "Displaying the children of celebrities and their daily life is not something worth worrying about, as many ordinary people are also doing this."

But there are supporting voices for the SAPPRFT decision. "Such reality shows are uninteresting and meaningless," a proponent said. "An end of Where Are We Going, Dad? is fine because it fails to conform to the law of children's growth." "The program over-consumes children's future and is therefore not conducive to their growth. It lacks educational significance for both parents and kids."

I believe the ban on Where Are We Going, Dad?, Dad Is Back and other reality shows starring children of celebrities is a blessing, as it will help prevent them from shouldering the fane and the burdens of their fathers. The cute moppets have been a hit overnight at a tender age. They have earned a bundle through business operations including appearing in advertisements and have become the most valuable kids in China.

From a purely commercial perspective, it is not a big deal. However, it has definitely exerted a negative social influence. Affected by the prevalent tide, an increasing number of ordinary parents are anxious to train their children to become stars, creating an excessively busy schedule for their little boys and girls and consequently depriving them of the playful childhood they are entitled to.

Public opinion always flays children of officials and the rich not just owing to their extravagant lifestyle and low taste but also because their conduct obstructs social mobility in China. Nonetheless, children of pop stars often stay beyond criticism, as if they do not get a wonderful start by taking advantage of their parents' reputation and accompanying resources. Televisions, media outlets and production firms have long since formed a profit chain, so it is difficult for the public to see the adverse side of the phenomenon.

Furthermore, Where Are We Going, Dad? is based on a South Korean reality show Dad! Where Are We Going? Many other reality shows in China buy foreign intellectual properties and merely imitate them. It is pathetic that such unoriginal shows are quite prevailing across China. The new restrictions of the SAPPRFT will likely force televisions and producers to study and develop more original entertainment programs.

For example, Chinese Idioms Competition and Chinese Characters Dictation Competition claim to have favorable social and economic effects, which demonstrates that there are numerous resources in traditional Chinese culture that can be developed and utilized. These precious elements can endow China's entertainment programs with cultural implications. As Gao Changli, director of the publicity department of the SAPPRFT, has said, the notice was issued not to simply halt the parent-child reality shows but to create more meaningful and valuable programs.

The author is a Beijing-based freelance writer. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn Follow us on Twitter @GTopinion

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