Chinese Films, TV Shows Lack Quality, Says Regulator

Illustration by: Lars Leetaru

The official says art must serve the people, just like President Xi Jinping has argued

Too many TV shows, movies and literary works produced in China are decadent and of poor quality, the head of the country's media watchdog has said, adding that art must serve the people and be inspired by socialist values to be truly outstanding.

"We should produce outstanding literary and artistic works, but it has to reflect the Chinese spirit and have the soul of the people as its root. We must improve the quality to produce outstanding works," wrote Cai Fuchao, who heads the State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), in a Communist Party magazine called Qiushi, which translates to "seeking truth."

"We produce about 600 films, 15,000 TV show episodes and 256,000 publications every year, but we still lack quality works. The number of classic works that can affect contemporary history and leave their mark on history is only small," Cai said.

His remarks were in response to comments by Chinese President Xi Jinping at a forum where he said that art's function was to serve socialism and the people and must not bear "the stench of money," nor should artists be "slaves to the market."

China is now the world's second-biggest film market, and Hollywood films are making a big impact on China's cultural landscape, but recent comments from the leadership are a reminder that political concerns still play a major role in deciding what movies from Hollywood and other overseas markets get into China.

SAPPRFT recently tightened up regulations on what foreign movies and TV shows can be shown online, requiring advance viewing and approval of all content before it hits the market.

Cai said China had made remarkable progress in recent years in becoming a major film market, but he said that creativity was plateauing and not reaching its peak.

He said movies and books did not have to be solely market-focused as noble spirits, strong emotion and vivid imagery could conquer audiences.

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