And so it begins. The “pretty boy” image may soon be a thing of the past if the National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA), previously known as SARFT, has anything to say about it… and they do. In a meeting held on September 16, the NRTA asks for the strict implementation of regulations to manage TV salaries as they firmly control skyrocketing salaries, yin-yang contracts and tax evasion. They also firmly boycott supremacy of liuliang (traffic stars), chaotic fan circles, “dangai (耽改),” etc. With this, it seems a bleak future is likely in the cards for the highly popular and lucrative dangai genre that has been taking the industry by storm with so many dramas adapted from BL novels.
The statements above echo the guidelines issued by the radio and TV regulatory body earlier in the month where one of its stipulations touched upon putting an end to niangpao 娘炮 (which means “sissy” or “effeminate”) and other abnormal aesthetics. For male artists, that means every aspect of their overall look – from hair and makeup to their performance and styling must now be “correct.”
What Does Correct Aesthetics Entail?
Whereas smoky eyes and a full face of makeup, earrings and nail polish used to be pretty standard for male idols expressing themselves and wanting to up the visual factor in their performances, the new mandate is in favour of stars appearing more “masculine”.
This is also probably the reason why some idols have already undergone a makeover. Huang Zitao recently popped up a shirtless photo of himself showing off his ripped bod whilst working out at the gym. That’s quite a contrast to his usual carefully styled and super put together looks in the past. Likewise, singer Cai Xukun who rose to fame after Idol Producer ditched his clean shaven look in favour of a scruffier bearded version.
Response to what many assumed to be both stars conforming to the new regulations in order to avoid landing on the blacklist varies. Netizens understandably were super appreciative of Tao’s shirtless photos. That aside, others are complaining why there’s still a need to determine how a man and a woman should look when we’re already living in the 21st century. Similarly, others are asking why “effeminate” is still considered to be quite derogatory and lamenting how stars can’t even have their own personalities now.
Bleak Future for Chinese Dramas Based on BL Novels
While there aren’t specific details about the boycott, it still spells bad news for production companies as the whole slew of dangai dramas that have yet to be released or are still under production may now either have to be trashed or attempt a different strategy to make its way to audience’s screens. Meanwhile, it seems audiences will have to say goodbye to any more boys love narratives at least in the near future.
[CORRECTION]: The boycott is on the supremacy of liuliang traffic stars, not traffic stars themselves as misstated in an earlier version of this post.