What specifically is wrong / bad about skeletons in Chinese culture?
December 30, 2011 3:44 AM   Subscribe

Skeletons wrong / bad / taboo in Chinese culture?

I came to this topic through random stumbling upon the issue of WoW bans in China, due to portrayal of skeletons in the game. Of course it is hard to find anything but reports on this specific issue using the expected keywords.

I have never heard this idea before and want to understand the cultural / religious roots behind that censorship decision.

What specifically is wrong / bad / taboo about skeletons in Chinese culture?
Why are skeletons wrong / bad / taboo in Chinese culture?
posted by Meatbomb to Society & Culture (7 answers total)
Not skeletons specifically, but death and any representation of it are much more taboo subjects in Chinese culture than in the West.

These taboos have even more weight in the lead up to Chinese New Year, where telling ghost stories and talking about death is held to be especially inauspicious.
posted by TheOtherGuy at 4:27 AM on December 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

There's nothing specific beyond the general associations with death so far as I'm aware; I recall some talk about a general crack-down on supernatural content in online gaming a couple of years back but not a specific skeleton ban (not that I'm very up on this) - is that perhaps what you read about?
posted by Abiezer at 4:33 AM on December 30, 2011

Meant to add that on a quick search this (seemingly quite old) link to a skeleton warrior listing in a WoW bestiary is still up at the official site.
posted by Abiezer at 4:35 AM on December 30, 2011

I think there's some Official Communist Theory about decadence and superstition which is in play here (at least, that's what my reading about the CCP in other instances suggests) - not so much because the CCP genuinely believes that WoW promotes superstition and is bothered by that but because any large social formation/timesuck/thing-with-a-philosophy-of-sorts is viewed (actually quite plausibly, given both Chinese and global history) as a potential source of anti-state organizing.

This probably flows right along with non-CCP cultural stuff.
posted by Frowner at 5:10 AM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here's a couple of stories about the last crackdown on supernatural content I recall; this year the only cultural-type bans I recall are time-travel and too many talent and dating shows.
posted by Abiezer at 5:23 AM on December 30, 2011

Anything that refers to death is inauspicious, may attract the attention of the wrong type of spirits (yes, there are "good" spirits and "bad" spirits). As a child, I wasn't allowed to wear any clothes that were black or in very dark colours (even shoes). Once I had tried putting up on the fridge my drawing of a scary monster that I had drawn in art class and I was told to take it down.
posted by moiraine at 7:45 AM on December 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

Abiezer and Frowner right -- I was doing a lot of on-demand translation for technology companies at the time, and the reason for the ban was a crackdown on "supernatural and superstitious content," rather than any specifically Chinese taboo against skeletons. There may have been a bit of protectionist cockblocking involved, too, and WoW was also caught in the middle of a dispute between the Ministry of Culture and the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) about who had the right to regulate online gaming content. The skellingtons were just one aspect of the situation, and I wouldn't read too much into the ban.
posted by bokane at 7:24 AM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

« Older Will Silly Archaic Art Form Turn Beloved Daughter...   |   Help me find the on-screen music from "Hugo"... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.