Lifestyle & Belief

Chinese Idol-style show riles censors


Li Yuchun, winner of reality show "Super Girl Voice' 2005," performs in 2007 in Nanjing, China. A more recent incarnation of the talent competition, in which audience members vote to select winners, has been abruptly cancelled.


Li Yuchun

It turns out the Chinese are hellbent on voting… for their favorite singer on an American Idol-style show called "Super Girl."

Perhaps they enjoy voting a bit too much.

According to the Financial Times, the wildly popular televised singing competition has been cancelled, "following government pressure on a programme that some officials saw as subversive because the audience voting too closely represented Western-style democracy."

Anyone with a mobile phone in China can nudge their favorite "Super Girl" towards victory with a text message.

The show was viewed by 400 million in its peak, a viewership that nearly amounts to every human being with a pulse in the U.S. and Mexico. As you can imagine, all these votes build great fame and fortune for both the winner and the runner-ups as well.

All this apparently makes communist party censors uncomfortable.

According to a Time Magazine piece from 2006, written during an earlier run of the show, censors were already concerned that Super Girl was not "constructing a harmonious socialist society" and should not "make a hubbub about things as they please and must avoid creating stars."

But don't Idol-style shows prove the lameness of democracy? That's the contention of the state-managed media outlet China Daily, which wrote this in 2005.

"How come an imitation of a democratic system ends up selecting the singer who has the least ability to carry a tune?"