Last week, China's culture ministry added 100 songs to an internet
blacklist, including hits by Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and the Backstreet Boys.
Chinese music websites have until Sept. 15 to remove the offending songs,
unless record labels submit the songs for official approval. The ministry hopes to regulate the "order" of
the Internet music scene, noting that songs that "harm the security of
state culture must be cleaned up and regulated under the law."
Two years ago, in an attempt to crackdown on China's widespread illegal
downloading, the culture ministry also declared its intentions to keep "poor
taste and vulgur content" off Chinese internet airwaves.
Most of the newly-banned songs are from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan.
Lady Gaga leads the American pack with six banned songs off her new album, Born This Way (although curiously, the
LGBT-friendly title track was not included on the list).
Of course, one can hardly blame the Chinese government for looking to
keep these subversive songs far away from Chinese ears. Let's take a look at
what's so particularly offensive about these newest banned tunes.
"Last Friday Night (TGIF)"
While ostensibly, the culture ministry might have wanted to keep Chinese
youth away from Perry's flippant attitude regarding "ménage a trois"
and "blacked out blur[s]", the truly offensive lyric is a celebration of
American fiscal irresponsibility:
night/ Yeah we maxed our credit cards
China, the single largest holder of American public debt, has some qualms about the voracious American
appetite for debt. It makes sense that the government would want to discourage
such behavior at home. China's strategy of intensive exports, with minimal
domestic consumption, has been a boon to its burgeoning economy and it's not
about to let an American pop singer threaten 30 years of Socialism with Chinese
characteristics. Deng Xiaoping trumps Smurfette.
Lady Gaga's "Hair"
Whenever I'm dressed cool my parents put up a
fight / And if I'm hot shot, mom will cut my
hair at night / And in the morning I'm short
of my identity / I scream, "Mom and dad,
why can't I be who I wanna be, to be?
Gaga doesn't do much
here to show respect for her elders. Famed Chinese philosopher Confucius once described old age as a "good and pleasant
thing" which caused one to be "gently shouldered off the stage, but
given a comfortable front stall as spectator." With the advent of the one-child
policy, Chinese parents, who could traditionally expect that their children
would take care of them through old age, now find themselves at the whim of
their little emperors. For all the good Gaga does
for one's self-esteem, this song clearly refutes centuries of ancestor worship.
Beyonce's "Run the World (Girls)"
My persuasion can build a nation/Endless power, with our love
we can devour/ You'll do anything for me ...Who are we?/What we run? The world
(who run this motha, yeah)
At the start of the
21st century, China's leaders articulated a policy known as the
peaceful rise, an attempt to alleviate global fears about China's growing
economic and political power. In 2004, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao said China's rise "will not come at
the cost of any other country, will not stand in the way of any other country,
nor pose a threat to any other country." Beyonce's aggressive attitude
toward world domination is not what Wen had in mind.
Backstreet Boys "I Want it That Way"
I want it that way
Maybe "That way"
= democracy? Who cares if the song is 12 years old?
SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images