Once Upon a Time in China

BEIJING — In a bizarre move, China’s television censors have issued new guidelines that all but ban TV dramas featuring time travel.

In a statement (available here in Chinese) dated March 31, the State Administration for Radio, Film & Television said that TV dramas that involve characters traveling back in time “lack positive thoughts and meaning.” The guidelines discouraging this type of show said that some “casually make up myths, have monstrous and weird plots, use absurd tactics, and even promote feudalism, superstition, fatalism and reincarnation.”

from the New York Times in April



How could we have missed this at the time? Oh, yeah, we were out of the loop in small-town Ecuador, the closest thing to time travel we have experienced yet. One can even choose which epoch to travel back to: The capital is part of the global elite circuit (according to Sunday’s New York Times there is a new hotel there charging $545 per night, well above the monthly per capita income for the country) but about 10 years behind cutting edge capitals like Tokyo or London, while small cities are quaintly 20 or 30 years behind (more family restaurants than chains and bootleg DVD’s on sale on every corner). Go into a small town crossroads on the coastal plain or up in the Andes, and you travel back about a hundred years, before highways, ATMs and the internet, while in the jungle and the higher, more isolated mountain valleys there are plenty of people living the way their ancestors did 3,000 years ago.

Anyway, any true scifi fan or reader knows that the way around the time travel ban is simple: alternate universes. Also referred to as the multiverse, meta-verse, alternate dimensions, etc. the basic idea is that at any instant infinite new universes are being spawned covering all of the possible combinations of quantum motion.  As Cosmologist Max Tegmark put it, “A generic prediction of chaotic inflation is an infinite ergodic universe, which, being infinite, must contain Hubble volumes realizing all initial conditions.” (Wikipedia) Under that bloviated blanket a content creator can take his characters anywhere or when and just call it an alternative quantum reality.

Unless some future Chinese time traveler has already voyaged back to now and fixed the problem without our knowing it.  Time will tell.

About dowbrigade

Semi-retired academic from Harvard, Boston University, Fulbright Commission, Universidad Laica Eloy Alfaro de Manta, currently columnist for El Diario de Portoviejo and La Marea de Manta.
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