The Chinese TV personality Jing Boran has something to his ears that the authorities do not want you to see. It seems like that. Fans of a popular TV show in China discovered that the earlobes of the young star were bluffed in the most recent episode of the reality show. It is unknown whether Chinese authorities have issued a specific directive that prohibits earring-wearing men from being seen on television, or that the Chinese streaming service has decided to do so.
In the recent episode of the reality show ‘I, Actor’, which can be seen on the Netflix-like streaming service iQiyi, the face of Boran is carefully digitally edited, so that his earrings are not visible. Boran is not the only actor who has no ear lobes anymore. On Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, many pictures of male celebs with faded ears are circulating.
Various media, such as CNN and The Guardian think that the Chinese authorities try to reduce western influences in this way.
It is not known whether Chinese authorities have issued a specific directive that prohibits earring-wearing men from being seen on television, or that iQiyi has done so on their own initiative. A spokesman for the streaming service stated to the website ‘Sixth Tone’ that the company did not receive an official request to edit footage of male-worn earrings.
In the past year, masculinity has become the subject of debate in China. Authorities believe that male artists in the country are too feminine and thus propagate homosexuality. Grace Leung, a professor at the University of Journalism and Communication of Hong Kong, told CNN that the decision to blur earrings may have been influenced by the government’s wish to minimize the Western impact on Chinese pop culture.
“This fits in with the policy to purify Chinese pop culture from Western influences and to stimulate the desired image of masculinity,” says Leung. “China is a patriarchal society in which there is a clear hierarchical difference between men and women. Seeing men wearing earrings is from that perspective a decline in the social status of men.”
Chinese authorities are not averse to censorship. Last year the Chinese media watchdog forbade TV channels to show actors with tattoos. Images of what could be considered hip-hop culture or that would promote homosexuality were also banned.