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No Zuo No Dye: Kids TV Series Suspended Due to Characters’ Hair Colors

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It’s been an interesting week in the world of Chinese television, with highly-acclaimed dramas and sudden suspensions. Now, yet another Chinese TV series has been taken down. The reason? The cartoon characters had colorful hair. 

In response to a complaint letter accusing animated series Shining Star 2 (菲梦少女2) of having “problematic value orientation,” the Radio and Television Bureau of Hunan province suspended the show, ordering “inspection and rectification” by its broadcaster Golden Eagle Cartoon TV. 

“[The show] should not promote hair dyeing,” the author of the complaint letter wrote, adding that the characters should not “wear fancy dresses while performing dress-ups on stage.” 

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The animated series Shining Star 2 features three girls pursuing their dream of becoming idols — a theme now popular among the Chinese audience amid the success of reality shows Produce 101 and Youth With You. It is televised on Golden Eagle Cartoon, a channel on Hunan TV, the province’s government-owned broadcaster. 

The series does not promote problematic values, local authorities said in response to the complaint. “Because there are many characters in the show, the producer designed different hair colors for the characters to improve recognizability, helping the audience quickly distinguish them,” the response reads. “This is not a promotion of hair dyeing.”

“Meanwhile, since the show features stage performances, there are scenes of switching between daily clothing and stage clothing. This ignored the subtle influence of cartoons on minors and did not carefully consider the details of the plot.”

Nevertheless, the show was removed from the airwaves.

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There are no legal regulations in China against hair dyeing or showing unconventional hair colors on TV. Some of the most popular children’s TV series in the nation’s history — Calabash Brothers and Balala the Fairies, to name a few — have used hair colors and accessories to distinguish the characters. 

The takedown of the series has been received poorly on the Chinese internet and even among some state media outlets. “If everyone treats things one does not like by eliminating them, perhaps in the near future, our world will only have a monotonous color and a lone voice,” a commentary on Beijing News reads. 

Tianyu Fang
Tianyu M. Fang is a writer and journalist covering Chinese culture, politics, and technology. You can find him on Twitter: @tianyuf.