SARFT, and the historical/costume dramas..a suggestion?

The following thinking is my own regarding the current state of the restrictions and is in no way indicative of anything other than my personal thoughts on the matter.

There has been much said about the Chinese government and restrictions on how many episodes of costume, period and historical dramas may be aired on the channels per year, thus causing a huge bottleneck as they are only allowed 100 episodes total.

The concern has been that Chinese folks are possibly confusing what is fictional, mixed with the actual facts, in replacement of the actual history. That is to say, the faction/fiction/historical mix is confusing and now people are considering some of this “real”.

What I am going to say here…is this is not the first, nor the only nation to have this problem. :slight_smile:

And the solution is very simple really - around this site, you may see the placards at the start of many such dramas, stating that this is a fictional account that may have historical figures in it, or a logical and well-placed placard thus ENSURING no one views it as a strictly-historical account of events in the drama.

There ARE some strictly-historical dramas around…in several countries. These too may be earmarked as such, by such a placard at the start of every episode.

Korea, for one, has marked dramas in such a fashion - and cheerfully broadcast “Moonlight Drawn by Clouds”, where a Prince doesn’t die when he should and other features are clearly out of fact in history…so…all may enjoy the charming stars. :slight_smile: No one thus mistakes this account as the facts of the matter.

If the perceived confusion on the part of the public is indeed the entire base of this matter, then the answer is simple, and thus the people may have their cake… and enjoy it without concern. Like the many other nations of the world, who flag the confusing dramas and then enjoy them. :slight_smile:

Anyway - admittedly, I thought about it as my own personal ox, the love of the Chinese historical/costume/period dramas stands broadside to the goring here. But given also the high stakes for the government of the country, why would they not embrace a simple, yet elegant solution?

Oddly too, this might solve the “time travel” dilemma as well - a placard stating that no such thing exists, and that it is merely a fantasy…may solve this one too? :slight_smile:

I guess…with such simple solutions, the question is whether the government wishes to solve it, is motivated to put these dramas on air or not. Is it more beneficial to move them to other means of broadcast for the government would be another good question. :slight_smile: Perhaps there is more to the 100 episode restriction than meets the eye here, perhaps it is meant to encourage other programming be placed in higher regard.


I agree with what you’ve said there. Adding a simple note at the beginning of an episode should inform the viewer the content they are about to see is not historically accurate. But I don’t think that is enough when someone gets really into the story and the characters. What I would suggest (to the Chinese government, if I could) would be to add at the end of an episode a more detailed note/explanation how the events that just happened in the episode differ from the historical events. I feel this is a very nerdy suggestion, but you never know, somebody might get interested to read up on the material.

In light of the now-one-year-old ostracization events of Korean dramas on Viki, I think Chinese dramas have gained a momentum with the Viki audience in the past year. Who knows, maybe the Viki staff recognises this as a way out of… khm-khm… certain content issues.

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I think we have to see this issue in two aspects:

  1. the background of the SARFT restrictions.
  2. the reality of the Chinese dramas we get to watch/work in.

Ad 1. As I am avid Chinese novel reader - and those novels are the main source of scripts for all (or almost all) dramas that are produced by the power houses in China ( and all over the world) - I can totally relate as to why Chinese government is fed up with the premise of a young female being thrown into the past times, imprint her “unique character” onto some very important figure from the history and implant her “modern” views onto that person. When you browse through all those novels you encounter thiis very same female character that almost every living man protrayed in the novel/drama loves and that almost every female character hates. The same goes for all transmigration books. The stories are all the same - maybe with the change of scenery from one era to another. Now, let’s imagine that there are multiple producing houses that produce 100 dramas based on the great success of two or three novels in the past. it will be plain boring, right? Because… how many times you can actually watch “Chronicle of Life” or any other drama where the girl is moping her days away because she “cannot tell him” or “cannot be with him” or simply is too dull to actually care about the guy… So in this aspect, I would like to embrace the idea of the Chinese government to switch from the historical/magical aspect of the dramas and concentrate more on the modern dramas and modern issues - like changes in the Chinese society, the reality of the working life and so on. Of course, it will not be done perfectly as many subjects are still avoided or toned down, but it is great to see some “niche” dramas being talked about and taking over the place of the typical “she is different so everybody should just fall to her feet” attitude. of course, many modern dramas are stil terible to watch, but they are becoming shorter, more thought over and more open for new ideas. and this is really something I look forward to see, still hoping that China will rethink their attitude towards period dramas ( that they have to last forever… and ever… and ever… and then everybody dies, for example).

Ad 2. most of the dramas that we watched or work in are over 40 episodes long. the conflicts are being repeated every 10 episodes, the bad guys are becoming more and more insane and the main leads need to go through circles of bad karma before we can get our happy or sad ending. is it really necessary to tell the story of “Rule the world” throughout 60 episodes? Or “Empress of China” to be so long that even bare cleavages could not save it? Drama producers are “milking” their dramas too excessively because they have big names in them and big names = big audience = big ads = big money. They were ( and probably still are) forsaking the quality of the storytelling because of money. and I think this is where the government said stop. because it is better to have 3 great historicals with nice pace and great story than to watch an 80-episode-long monster and wishing someone would refund your lost time. and there are some dramas that are like that. Imagine Tribe & Empires’ story told in 40 episodes instead of 75 - they would still done decently and had the money to actually finish the series. or at least give us a decent ending of the part 1. surely, we would get less long and silent stares of the brooding heroes and maybe some palace ceremonies would be shorter… but you probably know what I am trying to say.

There are so many dramas that could benefit of a wise editor telling people to cut it in half, edit it and make a decent and meaningful drama. “Love lost in time” was such a drag that even my smirking God of War could not save it in the end, remember? Because somewhere around ep 25 the drama just wen berserk and then around 47 it was such a mess that it was a true torture to see it till the end. and knowing how great the novel was… it just makes me weep.

Going back to the main thesis of your missive, I think Chinese government is tired of all those dramas where people “travel to the past” - the main concern was ( and I read it somewhere) that the officials wanted to make sure that no one gets the idea of jumping into a well just to see if he/she lands in a Qin Empire’ era or something like that, so they wanted to cut it down.