The Bizarre Reason Why Chinese Television Started Blurring Men’s Ears

TV viewers in China recently noticed something strange whenever certain male celebrities showed up on screen – their ears were digitally blurred as if to hide something. While Chinese television has yet to make an official statement on this issue, the measure seems meant to hide men’s earrings.

Last year, China’s media regulator banned TV stations from showing celebrities’ tattoos as well as other elements of “hip hop culture, sub-culture and immoral culture,” in an effort to minimize Western impact on China’s pop culture. It was only a matter of time before men’s earrings were targeted, and earlier this year people started noticing that earring-wearing male actors and other pop icons had their ears blurred. The hashtag #MaleTVStarsCantWearEarrings recently went viral online, with tens of thousands of people criticizing the move as discriminatory.

“This is gender stereotyping … and ignores the diversity of different groups,” one Weibo user wrote.

“They control more and more,” blogger Chen Sanyi commented. “If a female star has short hair, will her whole head be blurred? How about banning all those female stars who look genderless and guide girls not being neither female nor male?”

Male ear blurring was first spotted on popular streaming platform iQivi, a service similar to Netflix, but other television services are expected to follow suit, as the crackdown seems to have been ordered by Chinese censors. Although authorities have yet to issue a statement on this newest ban, experts claim that it is consistent with the country’s policy to preserve gender roles.

“This is a consistent policy of purify their pop culture from the Western influence and strengthening the Chinese characteristics of manhood,” Grace Leung, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s School of Journalism and Communications, told CNN. “China is still a strong patriarchal society which have a distinctive male and female hierarchy in many local communities. Seeing men wearing earrings, in many traditional men’s point of view, is a deteriorating of their social status and respect.”

Although the vast majority of comments on this issue are critical of the government censorship, there are also those who support the measure, claiming that men wearing earrings look “strange” and “effeminate”.

“I support the government moving to rule on this, men should look like men,” a Weibo user wrote.

via BBC

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