Super Girl 2006 

The following is a blog post by Massage Milk on the coming edition of Super Girl.  The stated assumption is that it does not matter how the State Administration sets the conditions against Hunan Satellite TV's Super Girl (see China Digital Times), because the audience-centric programs will always be more popular than ideology- and formula-driven programs.  Once this premise is put into the public consciousness, this year's Super Girl is in fact going to be a popular vote on two opposing philosophies about television programming, and it should not be hard to pick the winner.

[in translation]

Administrative Order

From reading the news over the past few days, I get the idea that everybody is paying attention to the 2006 edition of Super Girl.  Last year's Super Girl was very successful.  So everybody was interested in seeing how Hunan Satellite TV is going to do this year's edition.  In the end, the lovely State Administration of Radio, Film and Television issued an absurd order that imposedrestrictions on televised contest-style programs, and so there is no definitive disposition about Super Girl as yet.

According to legend, when Elder Brother Wu (note: a famously short person from the novel, The Water Margin) ran a restaurant, he had a rule -- no workers should be taller than Elder Brother Wu.  Therefore, Elder Brother Wu could only have people like "Short-legged Tiger" Wang Ying as workers.  The administrative order from the State Administrative Office was obviously made in favor of CCTV, and everybody can see that.  Why?  Very simply put, Hunan Satellite TV does a better job than CCTV in these kinds of programs.  Even an idiot can see that.

But if you are just a local television station, how can you be better than CCTV?  CCTV is supposed to be the Big Brother all the time.  Even more significantly, Hunan Satellite TV's Super Girl not only planned their program better to make the audiences more at ease, but it had also be said to be "relatively more humanized."  And this humanization is something that CCTV programs miss.  After watching both Hunan Satellite TV's Super Girl and CCTV's In The Dream, the audience finally understood what good programs are.  Just like as after you watched Guo Degang's cross-talk program, you realized that all these other famous cross-talk performers actually had nothing to do with the true art of cross-talk.  If there wasn't an In The Dream program, would the State Administrative Office issue such an order?

Of course, at the State Administrative Office, their work will inevitably involve some decisions contrary to the public will: they will not allow any serial drama related to organized crime or corruption; they will not allow any ancient costumed dramas; they will not allow this and they will not allow that.  Anyway, they will ban anything that offends their eyes.  They don't know what else to do.  But they have never thought about the fact that the remote control devices lie in the hands of the spectators who have the right to choose.

Hunan Satellite Television reports to the State Administrative Office, so it will carry out all the orders from the State Administrative Office.  Based upon my understanding of the restrictions on this contest show, Hunan Satellite Television can go through the legal channels to sue the state authorities (of course, Hunan Satellite Television would not dare do that).  The State Administrative Office believes that if Hunan Satellite Television has to follow these rules, then CCTV's In The Dream will start at the same position with Super Girl and this is known as fair competition -- thus, when Wu Song (a tall, handsome and heroic figure from The Water Margin) is forced to get down on his knees in order to compare his height against Elder Brother Wu, then this is actually quite fair in a certain sense.

But I believe that in the PK ("Player Kill" is a term from online games) competition with CCTV, it is Hunan Satellite Television which will get the last laugh for sure.

I have had the opportunity to participate regularly in certain planning meetings for television programs.  It is a lot of headache trying to plan for CCTV programs.  No matter what you think, their response is always: "The station leaders will not approve."  So I have been wondering just who are these "station leaders" that they are talking about.  When you have good ideas, they don't think that it will be approved; if you give them vacuous ideas, they will tell you that you have vacuous ideas.  After a while, I finally understood.  When CCTV produces programs, they are produced for the leaders and not for the mass audience to watch.  Therefore, when CCTV fills the screen with a bunch of lousy programs, it was done for the station leaders to watch.  So you can imagine just what kind of programs are being produced by CCTV.

One day, I had some spare time and so I watched the CCTV music channel.  I could not understand how a music channel can have such lousy programming.  Even if you want to focus on folk music or high-brow music, it would not have been so lousy without any ideas whatsoever from start to finish.  But if you watch the Fengwen Channel, they have all these damned exciting programs all coming from CCTV.  Why is there such a vast difference?  The resources of the channel were just totally wasted.  I don't know the audience rating for the music channel, but I can't imagine it could be any good.

But Hunan Satellite Television is different.  After the Spring Festival, I wrote a report on Hunan Satellite Television.  I wanted to find out why their entertainment programs are so good.  Later on, I found out that one hundred plans will not be as good as an understanding leader.  Last year, I covered the Super Girl story and I interviewed the Hunan Satellite Television leaders.  They said that if there is an understanding leader, then they would be a hit even if they are in Qinghai or Ningxia.  Hunan itself does not have much in the way of entertainment resources, so they have their own ideas and methods.  The station chief will personally design the stage backdrop.  Which television station chief would do that?  When certain people want to do programs with other television stations, the station chief personally go and travel outside to persuade those people to come back.  When their programs are criticized by the State Administrative Office, the station chief will personally go to Beijing and get down on his knees in front of the door to the State Administrative Office to beg for leniency ... all of this was done to make better programs.

The people at Hunan Satellite Television also back themselves into impossible situations during television program planning, but somehow they find a way out.  That is because they make such good programs.  They do not create programs for their station leaders.  In fact, the station leaders often feel that their young workers are behind the times and force the directors and scriptwriters to open their minds in order to make the programs even more popular.

Super Girl did not become such a hit last year as an overnight sensation.  People in the television business have seen "American Idol" and "Popular Idol" for several years already, but Hunan Satellite Television was the most successful.  Even if this is a question of just imitating this type of program, how come Hunan Satellite Television succeeded while other stations failed?  If you attend one of their planning meetings, you will understand totally.  At the same time, why are the CCTV programs so lousy?  If you attend one of their planning meetings, you will understand totally.

Therefore, it would not matter if the State Administrative Office issues a hundred restrictive orders to Hunan Satellite Television, because Hunan Satellite Television will still be able to produce a good program.  If Hunan Satellite Television succeeds with this year's Super Girl, it will be the biggest shame on the retarded policies of the State Administrative Office.