The Chinese government has ordered a boycott of “sissy pants” celebrities as it escalates a fight against what it sees as a cultural import that threatens China’s national strength.
In a directive issued on Thursday, China’s TV watchdog said entertainment programs should firmly reject the “deformed aesthetics” of niangpao, a derogatory term that refers to effeminate men.
The order came as Beijing tightens control over the country’s entertainment industry, taking aim at an explosion of TV and streaming shows that hold increasing sway over pop culture and the youth.
Young, delicate-looking men who display gentle personalities and act in boys’ love dramas have amassed large fan bases mostly comprising women. Many of them, like Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo, are China’s top-earning celebrities.
They came in sharp contrast with the older generation of male stars, who were expected to sing revolutionary songs and play intrepid, aggressive soldiers defending the country from foreign enemies.
But the more gender-neutral aesthetics have come under criticism from conservative voices in society. Some officials and parents fear the less macho men on TV would cause young men to lose their masculinity and therefore threaten the country’s development.