Analyze: China and Eurovision 2014 – A Dilemma For the State Media

11 May

Transmit or not this year’s Eurovision Song Contest? This is the question. First of all, for a reason known by all, China’s state media CCTV surely doesn’t want an Austrian win, as the travesti (transgender? or something else, but is now called “Ms. Beard” by Chinese fans) has won an edition of Eurovision that was filled with Chinese element, which has never been seen before. So it remains to be seen how will China’s Central Television deal with this year’s contest, here is a humble analysis by me as a inmature blogger without any experience of news reporting:

Why in Eurovision 2014 the hosts keep talking about China?

Well, with absence of any official background, this blog cannot give you an official answer, but some rumours can be told here for you to take as a reference stating that it has something to do with a recent visit of Danish Queen to China and this may be a signal to make Copenhagen closer to Beijing as if they are talking about establishing a twin-cities relation. But some states that China may have been a secret financial sponsor of this year’s Contest, which I tend not to agree without a concrete evidence.

Is Conchita Wurst style accepted by Chinese society?

Not really, we have to say that in China you can really find travesti, and also the people around looking at them as if here comes a man with mental disorder, or a strange man or something just got off from a UFO. Among younger generation travesti and transgender are tolerated to some degrees, but still receive a notable number of discontent (even more than homosexuality, as gays at least knows how to dress “normally”). China is a country with a history of more than 5,000 years and people are proud to hold their (maybe too conservative) traditional values. I’ve stated when Krista’s lesbian kiss was censored in CCTV-15 that such a big society of 1.3 billion people (with more than 0.8 billion of rural population) cannot be changed within a day. Any change may be gradual and slow, especially if it is about people’s view and reflections. Tolerance is bliss, this sentence is being accepted by more and more Chinese population.

What’s the reaction of China’s Music Fans related to Conchita’s Win?

Conchita’s win really rocked China’s music fans, there has been some entries in Sina Weibo (alternative service of twitter in China), claiming that Conchita has taught us to be tolerant and to respect diversity. A tweet that I received says, there are two reasons to make us burst into tears: Valentina’s qualification and Conchita’s win. Large numbers of China’s Eurofans and music fans are sharing with European fans the excitement of the moving moment when Conchita held the trophy of ESC Winner despite that it was about 5 am in Beijing, an hour unfavorable to watch any kind of TV programs.

Will CCTV censure this year’s contest?

If censorship means that we cut, or modify something, sure, because CCTV does not broadcast solely for younger generation, the old people and rural people surely don’t want to see Conchita performing on the stage, and nor do CCTV like to be blamed for its taste and value. But I don’t really think that CCTV will skip this year’s contest as Conchita wins, mainly because of various Chinese elements in this year’s contest, which can be interpreted as our great victory of cultural diplomacy and output, and also an evidence that shows the increase of China’s soft power. China’s diplomacy is quite controversial here as some claim that it is inefficient and useless. This year’s Eurovision Song Contest may offer China’s officials a good proof to say that our exchange with foreign countries work at some extent. So I think CCTV has more reason this year to transmit ESC than last year, and it may not want to give up.

In which way may CCTV censure this year’s contest?

Mainly the way they define Conchita. I guess people will more easily accept if they’re not told that Conchita is a travesti or a transgender, but a man (or a woman) that, according to the necessity of the performance and a stage effect required by the theme of the song, was dressed and made up like this (or maybe a person with genetic defect?), in a word, they may avoid mentioning Conchita’s gender and other personal profiles. Since ESC 2013 was broadcasted without commentators, we don’t need one, so neither do the audience need much imformation about the artists. Anyway, it is impossible to broadcast the competition without a winner. But we can be sure that the proclamation that Conchita made knowing she has won the contest, that contained terms like freedom, future and instoppable, will definitely be cut.

How did state media report Conchita’s victory?

Xinhuanet (the media that stands in line with the government the most) – Austria’s “Travesti Queen” wins the Eurovision: http://news.xinhuanet.com/photo/2014-05/11/c_126486289.htm  I can’t open the page, and don’t know if it has already been deleted.

Chinadaily.com – Austria’s “Bearded Beauty” wins the Eurovision. Well if you open the page you may only see a title. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/hqgj/jryw/2014-05-11/content_11684527.html

But Beijing TV Station posted a report titled: “Beijing Week of Eurovision Song Contest begins, Chinese Culture Shines in Copenhagen”, which is reposted by state-run people.com.cn.

The de-facto state-run Phoenix News reported with a title: “Eurovision: Music Without Boundary, Austrian ‘Bearded Beauty’ Wins”: http://v.ifeng.com/ent/music/2014005/0183efa3-c39e-4ca0-8d77-dab2beff551a.shtml

I think the term “Bearded Beauty” will be used as an official alias for Conchita by Chinese state-run medias, as when you call “beauty”, people will understand that she is a woman, and will not care whether she is travesti or transgender, it may be the best way to avoid controversies among CCTV’s audiences.

So our dear readers, what do you think about the possible solutions? Please let us know! But as a Chinese with limited English skills I would say, don’t demand too much on Chinese audience, let us change little by little. At this time, it will surely be a victory only if ESC 2014 and Conchita appear in the screen of China’s 1.3 billion TV sets, no matter whether censored or not.

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3 Responses to “Analyze: China and Eurovision 2014 – A Dilemma For the State Media”

  1. Klim May 11, 2014 at 11:47 pm #

    The video from ifeng.com is actually a clip from Dragon TV based in Shanghai, part of SMG. It translated Conchita’s winning speech in whole, which could be seen as a positive sign. But again, Shanghai media tends to be more forward thinking than those in Beijing on this sexuality issue.

  2. orSomethingLikeThat May 12, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    Hi, your first link (to xinhuanet) contains a non-print character “%C2%A0”
    http://news.xinhuanet.com/photo/2014-05/11/c_126486289.htm%C2%A0
    it should be
    http://news.xinhuanet.com/photo/2014-05/11/c_126486289.htm
    then you may have better luck opening it.

  3. Kevin Chen from China May 18, 2014 at 7:23 am #

    Well, actually, Chinese people are more tolerant to drag queen performances than most of westerners think. In the 2012 and 2013 CCTV Spring Festival Gala, which is the most-watched TV show in China with over 700,000,000 people watch it in Chinese New Year’s Eve, Li Yugang performed as a drag queen.2012 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQj3FBQe958 2013https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPr50Yh7XXc Althought it is seen as a mordern version of Chinese Opera, because in the past, only men perform Chinese Opera even female characters. So Chinese viewers are more acceptable to this than most westerners think. But, her speech may still be censured though.

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