Busy, stressful week. Quick thought:
SARFT – the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television, or 广电局 for those in the know – is, like most if not all Chinese governmental organs, absolutely terrified of any change whatsoever in the status quo. Anything that might represent any loss to SARFT’s position as the Kings of All Media must be stopped right away – hence SARFT’s unending battle with the Ministry of Information Industries over who gets to control IPTV, or – more recently – its insistence that all online video, including that Youtube clip of the kitten boxing with the sock monkey, obtain content permits.
This is, of course, laughable, until you realize that they’re probably serious about it, and then it becomes kind of sad. I feel genuinely bad for SARFT: I used to think of them as joyless grey cogs of the type that inhabit Chinese government bureaus and American university administration, but now I see them more as a bunch of sad, frightened old men who control next to nothing, and guard it jealously. On quiet days, they sit around talking about how much better things were before all of that dad-blasted “inter-web” hoo-ha that they keep hearing about, back in the good old days when the Red Guards – the original viral marketers – were as cool as Li Yuchun is today and when the only movies they had were from Albania, Russia, and North Korea.
They’re scared, frail old men, and when they hear from their grandkids that there’s now technology allowing people to disseminate video content without restrictions, they get chest pains. Never mind that the content in question is mostly Korean soap operas and desperately unhip college kids trying to beatbox – it’s scary for the guys at SARFT, so scary that they go out and start hitting the bottle, which is how you get ridiculous regulations like this to begin with.