The headline that caught my eye was “China Bans Time Travel“.
My first thought was that here is another unnecessary restriction against an imagined threat – like Oklahoma banning sharia law.
Reading into it a bit, I discovered something with a little more nuance. It wasn’t an outright ban, but rather, an official expression of displeasure. Though in China, what’s the difference? If the declaration on the right means what the New York Times ArtsBeat Blog says it means, the authorities in Beijing formally frown on time travel as a theme in TV shows because such dramas are lacking the required “positive thoughts” area. Also, the plots of such shows “casually make up myths, have monstrous and weird plots, use absurd tactics, and even promote feudalism, superstition, fatalism and reincarnation.”
It is a stretch for free Americans to imagine living in a place where the entertainment is not built atop “monstrous and weird plots,” and the government dictates the scenario, but perhaps it’s not as bad as we think. After the ArtsBeat article appeared, others chimed in with a slightly different reading – that China has not banned time travel stories outright, but simply cautioned writers and producers against misrepresenting exalted figures of the past when they should be treated with total adoration.
One blogger pointed out that here in the USA, our exalted figures of the past are all fair game for pretty much anything – witness the effort now underway to make a film out of “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.”
Another possibility that has apparently occurred only to me – China did in fact launch a brutal crackdown on all use of time travel in fiction and in fact, but mysterious people from the distant future swooped in and switched the documents to soften penalties that would otherwise apply to their favorite authors and filmmakers someday – thus avoiding significant pain and discomfort for the very people whose creative anarchy inspired them to become time travelers in the first place.
Well, why not? It could happen. If I were a technologically sophisticated interloper from the future, I’d do what I could to keep Irwin Allen out of jail simply because he gave us Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and this: The Time Tunnel.
Oh, wait. To the people of 1966, I AM a technically sophisticated interloper from the future.
But I still can’t travel through time. Not here, and certainly not anywhere in China. Dang it.
When have you run afoul of an official policy?