If you are a fan of tattoos, hip-hop, or freedom, then you might take umbrage at the Chinese government’s recent decision to ban tattoos and hip-hop from the media. They even took the hip-hop ban a step further by banning anything similar to the hip-hop subculture. Gao Changli, the publicity department director for all of the media channels in the People’s Republic of China said this:
“Absolutely do not use actors whose heart and morality are not aligned with the party and whose morality is not noble. Absolutely do not use actors who are tasteless, vulgar, and obscene. Absolutely do not use actors whose ideological level is low and have no class. Absolutely do not use actors with stains, scandals, and problematic moral integrity.”
The Chinese people have already experienced laws to limit their freedoms, and this ban on artistic expression is another example of censorship in the country. Chinese citizens immediately took to social media to express their outrage on Weibo (a service similar Twitter). One person commented, “How can a government with high culture have such childish logic?”
People on social media were not the only ones to be angered by this decision. China also banned tattoos on their soccer players, and it could hurt the team’s ability to perform considering many of them are tattooed. Earlier this year when China took the field against Wales, they had to pause before the game to put on long sleeves and wrap their tattoos with skin-colored athletic tape to cover them. It is impossible to say whether or not it affected their performance, but they conceded a goal after a mere three minutes into the game, and ended up losing 6-0. Furthermore, their opponent, the seemingly more disciplined and skilled Welsh team was heavily tattooed.
The players don’t like the rule, the fans don’t like the rule, and it seems that many Chinese citizens don’t like the rule. Yet, it has been implemented and doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Historically, China is prone to decisions like this, but it seems that things have been ramping up lately, with the government implementing some scary technology powered by artificial intelligence. One way they have accomplished this is with a new kind of social credit score, which is based on your behavior in apps such as WeChat, Alibaba, and it takes into account the scores of your friends. It works as a mass surveillance tool and uses big data to monitor your purchases, location, and online behavior to calculate the credit score. Earlier this year, it was announced that Chinese citizens with a low social credit score will be banned from planes and trains for up to a year starting on May 1, 2018.
It has yet to be seen if having tattoos will affect your social credit score in China. It is also unclear if tourists with tattoos will be treated differently. In the meantime, we can hope for a more permissive resolution to these laws that limit exposure to different ideas and means of expression.