Is Chinese TV’s ban on bright hair color back?

Society & Culture

When a popular television show suddenly stops airing without giving any particular reason, you know something is up. That’s what happened to 青春有你, a Chinese boy group survival reality show that made a comeback on March 8 after skipping the scheduled airing of its seventh episode at the end of February.

In the two weeks since its disappearance, the show has released a short announcement on March 1, saying that the delay is a result of its production team wanting to create “better stage effects.” The lack of valid explanation in the notice puzzled its audience, leaving ample room for speculation as to whether a cancellation is imminent.

To the delight of its viewers, the show is back. But the promised fancy effects turned out to be odd and perplexing. In the episode, all the contestants who dyed their hair bright colors were given special treatment in post-production, which made their hair look black or dark brown.


For example, this contestant appeared in the sixth and seventh episodes, which were filmed at the same time, with totally different hair colors. In the latest episode, his hair seems so unnatural that it almost seems like he was wearing a wig.


After the first round of elimination, the show featured around 60 contestants by the time of the seventh episode and about half of them colored their hair in a bold style. Given that it requires a huge amount of work to correct all bright hair colors in an almost-four-hour-long episode, the show came up with some creative ways to save labor costs, such as using black-and-white video-editing effects or simply cutting out contestants with colored hair.

Screen Shot 2019 03 12 at 3.16.59 PM

Maybe it’s too soon to say that these bizarre hair effects are a result of some sort of ban imposed by China’s top media regulator, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television of the People’s Republic of China (SAPPRFT). But it’s worth noting that in 2017, some Chinese television shows also took issue with artists with colored hair after the government criticized them for their “strange styles and lack of aesthetic sense.”

And if you think this is no big deal because bright hair color hurts your eyes anyway, this an alarming reminder: Just two month ago, some male celebrities got their earlobes blurred on television because of their man earrings, a fashion item abhorred by SAPPRFT, which seems to be on the path of making arbitrary rules prohibiting everything it dislikes.