Artists with uncompromising musical vision and an outspoken message are often targeted by oppressive regimes. Sinead O'Connor told us to fight the real enemy, the Dixie Chicks pissed off Texas, and now the Backstreet Boys are threatening the cultural security of China.

Well, let me hedge that a little bit. "I Want It That Way," the now twelve-year-old ballad by the Backstreet Boys (in retrospect, possibly the most overtly homoerotic boy-band name of the '90s), was targeted as part of a list of 100 songs that never received approval from the Chinese Ministry of Culture, and therefore have to be removed from the country's music downloading sites. The list also includes "Last Friday Night" by Katy Perry, and "Judas" by some unknown up-and-comer called Lady Gaga (trust me, she's gonna be huge).

Gaga actually had a full six songs on the list, all from her most recent album. To be fair, the Ministry hasn't said the songs are objectionable per se, they just haven't been cleared for distribution. The rule is meant to preserve China's "national cultural security," according to officials.

The Chinese government rigorously screens imported entertainment for political messages or commentary that might run counter to its official part line. Past examples of this include movies about time travel, video games, and any mention of the Tiananmen Square protests and massacre.

Apparently, much of the scrutiny on foreign musical acts can be traced to a 2008 Bjork concert in Shanghai where the singer yelled "Tibet!" after performing a song called "Declare Independence," which is exactly the kind of half-assed, pseudo-rebellious thing Bjork would do. Now, millions of Chinese people are deprived of the three minutes and forty seconds of heaven that is "I Want It That Way."

Way to go, Iceland. 

Tags China

Commentarium (9 Comments)

Aug 26 11 - 11:46am
John Son

Half-assed and pseudo-rebellious maybe, but at least she did it in China. It's not like she wore a Free Tibet t-shirt on an American campus or anything.

Aug 26 11 - 12:01pm
lolwut

To be fair, the Chinese government never actually banned movies featuring time travel as a plot device - it just encouraged its domestic networks/theaters not to show those kinds of movies. Chinese people fucking love sci-fi shit though.

As for "I Want It That Way" being banned - curious choice by the government, seeing as how that is one of the only English songs you can find in a lot of the KTV halls over here. Chinese folks love Lady Gaga, too - so much so that "oh my Lady Gaga!" has become a common expression for English-speaking Chinese youngsters. For real.

Aug 26 11 - 1:31pm
fishstix

I think they're just banning shit right?

Aug 26 11 - 2:17pm
HipHop Hippo

I wonder if they ban Firefly...I mean, it does feature Chinese dialogue, and considers China a superpower before...Earth died. :P

Or maybe China's worse than Fox...:(

Aug 26 11 - 4:11pm
patricjames_

Wish they would do the same in the US.

Aug 29 11 - 11:20pm
SW

Me too.

Sep 02 11 - 7:04pm
julian.

You can ban Katy Perry and Lady Gaga but when you ban the backstreet boys, that's when I get mad.

Good thing I don't live in China.

Sep 15 11 - 2:44pm
Rods

Lady Gaga and Katy Perry has a lot of influence on the youth, therefore I don't think that their songs should be aired on TV or radio. All their songs has a negative effect on the youth. It is their kind of songs that cause teens to commit suicide and steal their dadies guns and shoot at the children in schools. All the countries should ban their songs.

Sep 15 12 - 10:29pm
Alessandro

So, singing a song about self-empowerment (Firework by Katy Perry) causes teens to commit suicide? What the hell?