Positive change: New Year galas see fewer idols, more national heroes
Published: Jan 04, 2022 08:30 PM
A performance at the Mid-Autumn Festival Gala
Photo: Courtesy of Bing Bing

A performance at the Mid-Autumn Festival Gala Photo: Courtesy of Bing Bing

 As China welcomed the year of 2022, the country's New Year galas moved in a more positive direction by inviting more talented singers to give excellent performances and Chinese national heroes to share their remarkable stories. Left out in the cold were idols that rely more on their good looks and social media presence than talent. This change comes after several entertainment figures such as Chinese-Canadian pop star Kris Wu and actress Zheng Shuang were placed on a negative list for illegal behavior.


Looking at the program lineup of the just ended New Year galas, many Chinese TV stations made changes such as including more traditional Chinese cultural elements and inviting national heroes from various fields to speak and share their experiences so as to act as a role model to viewers.


For example, the Saturday New Year galas on Dragon TV and Zhejiang Satellite TV brought on veterans of the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-53) to relay their stories and the history of the war.


Shifting focus away from pure entertainment to include more educational elements is also a good trend for these galas to follow as telling the true stories of real people can more easily strike a chord with audiences and touch them than the latest pop hit. Meanwhile, it can also help stations cut the immense costs of holding these galas.


The galas held during the various important festivals in China tend to be some of the most profitable programs for TV stations as they usually compete amongst themselves to invite as many of the latest hot stars as they can, since this leads to higher viewership ratings.


However, inviting these stars also incurs inflated budgets, which can in turn  force teams to cut the budget for other important aspects such as detailed costumes, stage design and lighting. Meanwhile, the appearance of popular idols, many of whom are not that competitive when it comes to pure talent, end up impacting the overall quality of the show, resulting in galas that are all fluff but no substance.


Since scandals in the Chinese entertainment industry have come under the public spotlight, such as Wu's arrest on rape charges and Zheng's fine for tax fraud, many TV stations have become more careful when it comes to choosing guests to prevent any unexpected scandals from disrupting their plans. This is a big change.


Mainstream platforms and programs should not only focus on entertainment and profit, but also pay more attention to real life, major historical events and important social issues, and have more diverse show segments that can be both educating and entertaining.


In this regard, the New Year galas shift from "warring over star power" to "inviting more national role models" should be seen as a turning point for further transformation.


We look forward to more platforms and programs that will be able to promote mainstream values and be positive energy for good.