question of the day: Would banning time-travel stories make our TV healthier?

I guess they won’t be seeing the new series of Doctor Who in China. From the New York Times blog Arts Beat:

BEIJING — In a bizarre move, China’s television censors have issued new guidelines that all but ban TV dramas featuring time travel.

In a statement (available here in Chinese) dated March 31, the State Administration for Radio, Film & Television said that TV dramas that involve characters traveling back in time “lack positive thoughts and meaning.” The guidelines discouraging this type of show said that some “casually make up myths, have monstrous and weird plots, use absurd tactics, and even promote feudalism, superstition, fatalism and reincarnation.”

The guidelines, which fell short of an outright ban of such dramas, seem to have come in response to a series of popular programs about protagonists drifting back to ancient times. For instance, in “Palace,” one of China’s hottest TV series, a woman falls in love with a Qing dynasty painting, travels back in time and then falls in love with several princes.

Palace sounds pretty awesome, frankly. But there you go: my fangirl head is packed with negative thoughts about traveling back in time to fall in love with several princes, and I lack meaning. Also: I enjoy casually making up myths, and am probably a bad person.

Would banning time-travel stories make our TV healthier? Wouldn’t it just drive my obsession for Doctor Who underground, where it would likely fester into something even worse? Or would it be better for the collective good to simply be rid of such monstrous and weird stories?

Here’s a thought: What if time-travel stories had already been banned back in the early days of TV, and then Marty McFly went back in time and got the ban unmade? How would we know?

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