Sexualized poster for punk music festival taken down following Chinese netizens’ outrage
Published: Jun 23, 2021 06:41 PM
Music festival Photo: VCG

Music festival Photo: VCG

A promotional poster for a music festival in Chengdu became the target of criticism on Chinese social media on Tuesday by netizens who found the content too sexually explicit. While the Chengdu Midi Center issued an apology later that same day, the poster still continued to rile netizens, who called for a ban on "vulgar" advertisements.  

The controversial poster featured a skimpily clad cartoon girl with short blonde hair and a microphone tucked between her breasts. It was a promotion for the Chengdu Punk Music Festival, which is set to be held in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, in early August.  

On Tuesday, Chengdu Midi Center deleted the post on Sina Weibo containing the promotional image and issued an apology in which it expressed "regret" that the image was sent out. In the apology the center blamed the incident on a fault in its "review process," explaining that after the event organizer designed the poster, the center had asked it to be modified. While the modifications were made, the center mistakenly released the original unmodified version of the promotion. 

The poster sparked anger on platforms such as China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo and media review site Douban as many netizens expressing discontent why the designers decided to use a sexualized woman to promote a punk music festival. 

"Is it really hard to separate sex from punk rock culture? Is it really considered normal to use overly sexualized women to attract punk rockers' attention?" wrote one Douban user on Wednesday. 

It wasn't just the average netizen who expressed anger, fans within the punk community also showed their agitation. 

"Though I have to admit that 'sex' is not a forbidden topic in rock'n'roll and girls like me do sometimes have 'groupie moments,' this poster doesn't look at all punk to me. I'm insulted to see how they tried to use a very sexy and cute cartoon character to attract audiences. Punk is not cute, it is way cooler than that," Ding dingdong, a punk girl in Chengdu, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

After the poster was released, many netizens called upon the festival organizer to take it down over concerns that the overly sexualized images may not be appropriate for some young underage fans at the festival. 

"I would be worried if my children saw this kind of poster online. It is circulating everywhere, so she doesn't need to be a punk fan to see this terrible thing," Lin Min, a mother of two, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

The staff members in the media department of the center who published the poster have been suspended and a new poster is currently being revised, according to the statement. 

"I guess the center, as the one who posted it, is responsible for the incident, but the one who designed it needs to say something as well," wrote one netizen on Sina Weibo. 

So far the designer of the poster has not weighed in on the controversy.