China: Time Travel Dramas Disrespect History
Time travel has given moviegoers cinematic classics such as the "Back to the Future" and "Terminator" series, even if it doesn't actually exist. But Chinese officials have called for a ban on time travel stories in Chinese dramas by citing fears that it is ruining the country's history.
The trouble supposedly began with a popular Chinese TV series called "Shen Hua" ("The Myth"), according to a news story translated by China Hush. The drama showed a young man traveling 2,000 years back in time to ancient China and becoming the "sworn brother" of historical leaders such as Liu Bang, the founder of China's famous Han Dynasty. He eventually rises to the position of a general and crosses all time boundaries by falling in love with a princess.
There's no appropriate analogy in U.S. history, but perhaps it's as if a young, 21st-century American became the sworn brother of George Washington, served in the Continental Army and engaged in a passionate love affair with flag-maker Betsy Ross.
The popularity of "Shen Hua" itself based on a 2005 Hong Kong film that starred Jackie Chan has inspired more time travel stories where the protagonists similarly monkey around with fast and loose depictions of history. That forced the hand of China's General Bureau of Radio, Film and Television at a Television Director Committee Meeting on April 1:
"The time-travel drama is becoming a hot theme for TV and films. But its content and the exaggerated performance style are questionable. Many stories are totally made-up and are made to strain for an effect of novelty. The producers and writers are treating the serious history in a frivolous way, which should by no means be encouraged anymore."
A Chinese version of "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" clearly would not go over well right now. If a similar ban took hold in some crazy alternate U.S. timeline, viewers could kiss goodbye to certain episodes of "Star Trek," "Quantum Leap," "The Twilight Zone" and much more.
Disappointed Chinese scriptwriters might consider turning their gaze toward the future. Plenty of films and TV shows have made good use of time travel set sufficiently forward in time to avoid raising historical hackles, including the aforementioned "Terminator " films, the latest "Star Trek" reboot film, and spoiler alert "Planet of the Apes."