Two young girls in China have committed suicide in the hopes of becoming time travelers, reviving a nationwide debate about the use of time travel in the entertainment industry.
The girls, both 12, drowned in a pond near their homes, according to the Wall Street Journal. Xiao Mei and Xiao Hua wrote suicide notes before jumping into the pond. The Shanghaiist.com obtained a copy of Xiao Mei's suicide note, which reads: "In my life, I have two secret wishes. One is to time-travel back to Qing Dynasty and shoot a film with the emperor, and the other is to travel to outer space."
China frequently airs TV shows that feature time travel achieved only after death.
"Time-travel dramas are a relatively new soap opera genre, in which women living in the present travel back in time to fall in love in the Qing Dynasty after having an accident, such as a car crash, being struck by lightning or falling off a building," the Shanghaiist reported.
The State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television has spoken against the genre for being "too disrespectful towards history and too causal in presentation." Many fear that younger children are having problems separating reality from the science fiction they see on TV.
In an official statement from the State Administration, these dramas are condemned and the administration publicly bans the genre for- among other things- promoting "feudalism, superstition, fatalism, and reincarnation."
Time travel is thought of as teaching viewers that "escape is the best solution when dealing with a problem" and "death is easy and rebirth is even easier," says the Shanghaiist. Those messages are coming across loud and clear, with 90 percent of students at a local school reportedly believing in the power of time travel.
"Schoolchildren are rich in curiosity but poor in judgment," Sun Yunxiao, deputy director of China Youth and Children Research, told the People's Daily Online. "I have heard of children jumping from high buildings after watching an actor flying in a magic show."
"This kind of imitative behavior is the nature of young children, but it's very dangerous," she added. "We should give some sort of warning for children on TV programs."