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中国电视产业最大弊端:缺乏创造性

2014-04-02    来源:chinadaily    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

Pervasive sense of inadequacy

中国电视剧制作人需加大筹码以抵御韩国肥皂剧的侵袭。

Chinese television series producers need to up the ante to ward off competition from South Korean soap operas.

Soap operas from South Korea have been popular in China for two decades now. So, it is not the first time domestic fare has paled in comparison. But this time, the one-two punch from The Heirs and My Love From the Star really hurts, ahem, our self-respect-to the point that it turned into a topic for chatter at the annual two sessions where policy-makers and top advisers usually discuss less fluffy issues.

A senior official freely admitted to being an occasional participant in the vast club of Korean soap watchers. It has also been reported that he follows House of Cards, an American political thriller that would understandably fascinate him. His remark opened the floodgate of kvetching about why we are falling behind in the creative industry.

Most seem to agree that, given some content restrictions, China's television industry is not capable of producing something like House of Cards, which is very dark and fraught with conspiracy. But there is a concern about our inability to make something as innocuous and entertaining as My Love From the Star, a Korean love story about a time-traveling professor and a tantrum-throwing movie star.

Korean influence goes deeper than shows that speak Korean. The biggest runaway hit in reality programming, Dad, Where Are We Going?, is not an original Chinese show. Its format was licensed from South Korea although not many in China are aware of that fact. The tentacles of Korean creativity go into every corner.

"I'm all for the easing of restrictions, but showbiz in China lacks the professional basis for making television series of this kind of quality," wrote Gao Qunshu, an outspoken filmmaker, in his microblog. He didn't go into details.

Personally, I don't see much difference in production values between, say, My Love From the Star and some of the top shows from China. Despite the genre of romance, the former does not feature steamy sex scenes, which might have made the show difficult to get past censors. It took 10 episodes for the lead couple to have an on-screen kiss.

The narrative element of time travel could be problematic because science fiction, like fantasy, is often viewed with suspicion in China. It is argued that viewers in less educated circles might not be discerning enough to infer the things portrayed on screen are not possible in real life and therefore should not be imitated at home. This could have been true half a century ago, but it seems condescending now that the whole nation enjoys a nine-year mandatory education and few adults, if any, would blur the line between fantasy and reality on screen.

Judging from Chinese shows in recent years, time travel is not strictly forbidden, but allowed when it is used as a background and handled with kid gloves. A spate of palace dramas is built on the premise that the female protagonist is transported from contemporary times back to antiquity, playing the game of a damsel in distress and a real prince coming to her rescue.

US and British television shows enjoy a somewhat exalted status in China, but their audience size is more limited due to their relatively unfamiliar culture and fast pace. Although there has been a sporadic effort to duplicate some of these shows, with a Prison Break wannabe a fiasco and The Love Apartment, modeled on Friends, a moderate hit, the scope in subject matter lies far beyond what Chinese showmen can reasonably yearn for.

This was borne out by the attempted airing in 2005 of a few episodes of Desperate Housewives on a Chinese channel, which garnered miserable ratings. When streamed, though, these shows get a far more urban and knowledgeable crowd. And they also enjoy much more latitude as they are self-censored by the websites rather than by a regulating body. When Charles Zhang, CEO of Sohu.com, the website that licenses many Western shows, said matter-of-factly that House of Cards, especially season 2 with its heavy Chinese content, had not run into censorship problems, the Western press was amazed.

Among industry insiders there is an implicit understanding that Western shows are to be watched, but not imitated. Even the wider public is not ready for a Chinese production of Breaking Bad or Black Mirror, with their morally ambiguous characters and complex plotting.

But we have a closer cultural affinity with South Korea. Shows from this neighbor seem to be only marginally better, with their plodding tempo and endless variations on the Cinderella theme. Yet they have created storms that swept across all social strata in spite of their female-oriented aesthetics.

One secret that has been deciphered is the blending of traditions and fashions. Korean soaps are very conservative in values and tend to promote the country's culture unabashedly. At the same time they often exude a sense of hip that connects with the young demographic. It is a hard act to pull off because the two strands usually go in opposite directions.

In addition, they have found a way to reconcile what is traditionally considered male and female qualities. Many of these shows have reversed gender roles by making the man an object of desire and the woman the pursuer. The objectification of the modern Adonis is not only making waves in the world of fashion, but the ripple effects are seeping into gender politics. For one thing, it has become a subconscious benchmark for many young urban Chinese women in their choice of dates or spouses.

This is not women asserting their sexuality as much as their right to dream. Some have interpreted it as an oblique comment that Chinese women have made on Chinese men. The male response? This is "pornography" for women who fantasize.


By default, Chinese couch potatoes should and would prefer locally produced content, as testified by a recent poll that puts the rate of preference at 53 percent. But a limited free market-with productions open to all but television channels monopolized by State entities-has created the strange outcome of quantity trumping quality, with some 15,000 episodes churned out each year but precious few winning the hearts of the viewing public.

Of course there are multiple reasons why Chinese soap operas have become the favorite punching bag. Other than overzealous censors and the bar of viewers' reception set by the lowest common denominator, the industry itself has never set right its mechanism for operation. The role of the creator, the most important job for American scripted programming and often assumed by the head writer, is vacant in China.

Writers are often considered dispensable for those who invest in Chinese soap operas, and unsurprisingly, denied parts of the compensation stipulated in the contract. Because Chinese television sprang from the film industry, few have realized that, unlike director-dominated films, TV is the art of the writer, which is accepted in almost all countries with highly developed television industries.

When the most crucial position in a creative industry is relegated to a hack, you can imagine what kind of product will ensue. There is no pride, only money, in the business. And people have little incentive to sharpen their skills when the money is numbingly intoxicating. So everyone involved treats it as a fly-by-night operation.(ChinaDaily)

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至今,韩剧已在中国风行了20年。因此,这已经不是第一次国产剧与之相比大为逊色了。但是这次,遭受《继承者》和《来自星星的你》接二连三的打击确实伤害了我们的自尊心。这种打击严重到成为一年一度的两会议题。而两会通常是人大代表和政协委员们商讨大事的地方。

一位高级官员坦率地承认自己偶尔也加入韩剧迷大军中。据报道,他同样也在追《纸牌屋》。他被这部美国政治惊悚剧所吸引也是可以理解的。他的言论也打开了人们抱怨的闸门:为什么我们在文化创意产业方面如此落后。

大多数人似乎认为,鉴于一些内容的限制,中国的电视产业不能够制作出像《纸牌屋》一样,充满黑暗与阴谋色彩的电视剧。但是,人们同时对中国电视产业的无能表示担忧:中国为什么不能制作出一些像《来自星星的你》一样既无伤大雅又娱乐大众的作品。这部电视剧讲述的是一个穿越时空的教授与一个脾气火爆的电影明星间的韩式爱情故事。

韩国对中国的影响远远不只韩语电视节目。热播的真人秀节目《爸爸去哪儿》不是中国原创。它的版权是从韩国引进的,尽管很多中国人并不知道这一事实。韩国的创意触角伸向了中国的每一个角落。

“我很支持放宽限制,但是中国娱乐界缺乏制作这种高质量电视系列节目的专业基础。”高群书,一个直言不讳的影视剧导演,在他的微博中写道,但他并未细说。

在我看来,《来自星星的你》和中国某些热播节目制作价值差别不大。尽管是浪漫爱情题材,但前者并没有出现难以通过审查的性爱场面。男女主角的屏幕初吻也是在第十集的时候才出现。

穿越时空的叙事元素可能成问题,因为在中国,像奇幻片这样的科幻作品常常遭到人们的质疑。有人认为,受教育程度低的观众可能不具备足够的辨识能力去判断屏幕上塑造的东西在现实生活中是不可能实现的,因此不能在家中模仿。这在半个世纪前可能是对的,但现在这么说的话似乎过于贬低自己。现在全国都实行九年义务教育,即便有的话,也是极少数成年人才会分不清屏幕中的现实与虚幻。

从近几年中国的电视节目来看,穿越题材并未被严格禁止。把它当做背景并谨慎处理时是被允许的。一系列的宫廷剧就是以女主人公从现代穿越到古代为基调,讲述一个落魄少女与一个英雄救美的真命天子之间的故事。

美国和英国的电视节目在中国享有相对尊贵的地位,但由于其相对陌生的文化和快节奏,他们的观众数量不多。尽管有些人尝试模仿其中一些节目,如收视率惨淡的《越狱》山寨版和相对热门的《爱情公寓》(《老友记》山寨版),但是这些节目的尺度远远超过中国演员能够合理追求的范围。

2005年,中国电视上试播了几集美剧《绝望主妇》,但收视率极低,这恰好证实了这一点。然而,这些节目却得到了许多都市知识分子的追捧。而且这些节目的尺度要大的多,因为他们只需通过网站的审查,而不受监管部门的控制。搜狐网就引进了很多西方节目。其首席执行官张朝阳坦诚地说,《纸牌屋》,特别是其第二季涉及沉重的中国话题,但并没有遇到审查问题。对此,西方媒体也感到很吃惊。

业内人士间默认:西方的节目是用来欣赏的,而不是用来模仿的。实际上,广大观众也没有准备好接受中国版的《绝命毒师》或者《黑镜》类的作品。这些美剧角色道德模棱两可,情节错综复杂。

但是我们与韩国的文化较为相通。从这个邻国产出的节目的情况似乎会略微好些。他们的节目节奏缓慢,主题总是围绕灰姑娘式的爱情故事。虽然这些作品更符合女性审美,但是它们却赢得社会各个阶层的狂热追捧。

他们能如此成功,其中的一个奥秘就是传统与时尚的融合。韩剧在价值观方面很保守并且不加掩饰的推崇本国文化。但同时,他们通常富有时尚感,迎合年轻人的口味。而这恰恰是很难做到的,因为两者通常是背道而驰的。

此外,他们已经找到了一种协调传统意义上男女特质的方法。很多作品都通过女追男的方式改变固有的性别角色。对现代美男子的形象塑造不仅引领时尚潮流,而且其连锁反应正渗入性别政治。可以肯定的是,这已经成为很多中国城市年轻女性选择约会对象或者配偶的潜标准。

这不是说女性像主张她们幻想的权力一样主张她们的性征。有些人认为这是为中国女性对中国男性的不公正评论。男人们的反应又是什么呢?他们认为,这是女人们幻想的“色情”。

一般情况下,中国的电视迷应该更喜欢国产电视节目。最近一项调查也证实:53%的人更喜欢国产剧。然而,中国市场还不完全自由。虽然作品面向大众,但是各电视台均被国有单位垄断。这导致了只重数量不重质量的奇怪结果。尽管每年制作出约1.5万集电视剧,但却极少作品能够虏获观众的心。

当然,对于为什么中国肥皂剧会成为公众的出气筒这个问题,其中包含多种原因。除了过度审查和观众本身素质外,产业本身也从未真正定位准确其运行机制。创作者,这一角色在美国的编剧工作中占有举足轻重的地位,而且通常由首席作家担当。然而,这一角色在中国却是空缺的。

对于那些投资中国肥皂剧的人来说,编剧常常被认为是可有可无的。所以他们得到的报酬比合同原定的少也不是什么奇怪的事。因为中国的电视产业是从电影产业发展起来的,几乎没人意识到:电影以导演为导向,然而电视不同,它是创作艺术。而这种观念已被几乎所有拥有发达电视产业的国家所认可。

当把创意产业最重要的位置交给一个粗制滥造的职业写手时,你可以想象这会产生什么样的作品。在这唯利是图的交易中,没有自尊。而且当人们沉醉于金钱的时候,很少人会有动力去提高他们的技能。因此,从事这项工作的人都把它当作一锤子买卖。


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