iQiyi Cancels "Youth With You" As China Cracks Down on Online Celebrity Worship

Gong Yu, the Founder and Chief Executive of the Chinese streaming site iQiyi, announced in a symposium held by the China TV Artists Association that iQiyi officially cancelled idol reality show "Youth With You". The company will also remove off-site online voting features from its platform.

Credit: iQiyi

Aside from scrapping "Youth With You", iQiYi will stop streaming idol competition programmes in general. Amid its crackdown on firms that supposedly promote celebrity worship, the Chinese administration denounced idol shows, claiming that they spread "unhealthy fan culture".

"We will cancel idol talent shows and off-site online voting, be responsible as a platform, resist bad influences, and maintain a healthy and clean internet as well as (an) audio-visual environment for our users," iQiyi said in a statement.

This development came after Chinese-Canadian pop singer Kris Wu and actor Zhang Zhehan were embroiled in scandals. Wu was arrested by Beijing police on suspicion of sexual assault, while Zhang was accused of unpatriotic behaviour after old photos of him visiting historical sites in Japan surfaced online.

Credit: Weibo

In May 2021, the Beijing Municipal Radio and Television Bureau ordered "Youth With You" to suspend the taping of its season finale after the show carried out a controversial voting system that led fans to waste large amounts of milk and yoghurt drinks. Since the programme asked fans to vote for their favourite contestants by buying milk products and scanning the QR codes that come with them, audience members purchased CN¥48 million (approximately S$100 million) worth of milk and yoghurt drinks. Most of the products were resold or donated. But a number of fans poured the dairy products down the drain.

Credit: iQiyi

Around the same time, the Chinese reality show was under fire as the parents of top contestant Tony Yu Jingtian were accused of running illegal businesses. Jingtian was also suspected of holding dual citizenship, which is against Chinese law.

Recently, Chinese social media site Weibo removed an online list ranking celebrities' popularity amid calls from state media asserting that platforms should curb their promotion of celebrity culture to protect children.


Written by Sophia Lopez


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