American Idol. The original fame-seeking contest that generated over a million more minutes of people making fools of themselves in one way ore another in the hope if achieving fame. An exploitative venture that filled the pockets of the network and the lucky few while dashing the dreams of thousands. A show that allows us to “amuse ourselves to death.” Sound a bit negative but overall correct? Compare this show, now, to one of its foreign counterparts. Super Girl on the other hand was a brave attempt at democracy that ultimately was ended by the pervasive censorship found in China. Two similar programs: one helping its country, the other hurting it.
Like American Idol, Super Girl had viewers text in votes, an action that while common for the US is distinctly not in China. In addition, one article pointed out how the show allowed for more free speech. The judges would talk more “freely and bluntly” than in other competitions and gained notice, and admiration from citizens for it. This helped the program to become incredibly popular and create a community of fans. The show, however, was not to last. A CNBC article cited censorship as the demise of Super Girl despite claims from the state media that it had overrun it’s time slot too regularly.
Democracy is often considered the end-all be-all form of government from a western point of view but various other systems can have admirable qualities. China’s totalitarian system, while harsh, has been good for their economy and, though the censorship appears to be resented, the call for a Jasmine Revolution the previous year did not gain much response. This lackluster response most likely included many too fearful to revolt, but also likely included many who simply wished to keep the stability the current regime offered. Still, the lack of free speech, and ability to vote – if not for their leaders then their celebrities – in China is regrettable.