When belief in fantasy goes very wrong…

Time Travel Blamed for Teens’ Suicide: National Debate Revived

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.

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.

…90 percent of students at a local school reportedly believing in the power of time travel.

Source: Multiple

Wow. Often, I get some heat for being critical of TV or advertisements the depict nonsense or paranormal scenarios. Everyone knows that stuff is just for fun, they say. Well, they don’t. Well adjusted adults might understand. But, not everyone is perceiving things the same way, some may suffer from mental deficiencies or illnesses and children may just not know the difference, especially when culture reinforces it. That’s why I found this story interesting. Here is more with another example…

Two girls commit suicide in pursuit of time travel fantasy

Time-travel TV series have become very popular in recent years. Typically, the story is about modern people accidentally traveling to the ancient past and falling in love with a royal family member.

According to a media report in February, a 19-year-old Liaoning province woman, Xiao Dan (not her real name), told police she had paid 1,800 yuan ($285) to a Net friend who claimed she could help her travel to the ancient past but disappeared after receiving the money.

Because of several stories along these lines emerging, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television banned prime time – 7 to 9 pm – broadcasts of this kind of TV series at the beginning of this year.

I’m not sure banning the shows are the answer. But encouraging open discussion is crucial! I can’t tell if the shows they mention are clearly portrayed as fiction or more like the crap documentaries on the paranormal we see on “serious” channels like The History Channel, or the “reality-themed” adventure shows on The Travel Channel or Animal Planet. (Ghost Adventures and Finding Bigfoot, I’m pointing a critical finger at you!) This may be an isolated event but that statistic “90% of students believe” ??? If that is even CLOSE to accurate, that is very frightening and there is a problem here.

  4 comments for “When belief in fantasy goes very wrong…

  1. Massachusetts
    March 15, 2012 at 10:27 PM

    I still think there’s a place for ideas like time travel in fiction. Hopefully good fiction. I don’t know if these shows qualify as good fiction. But science fiction and fantasy, and horror too, have a valid place in our lives. I don’t see how it is realistic to create art, high or low, while second guessing every possible mental deficiency or issue someone might have.

  2. Massachusetts
    March 16, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    Though I do feel conflicted. It’s sad that the kids died. I obviously don’t want that to happen. But I do think reining in art, in the long term, has serious negative consequences for society. Since nobody can say with consequence what’s art and what’s not (IMHO) we have to take the good with the bad.

    Too bad the Chinese aren’t enamored of portals powered by fusion and high technology when fantasizing about time travel, like us Americans. That would render such misguided fantasies relatively harmless.

  3. Massachusetts
    March 16, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    oops…”consequence” should be “confidence.” Interesting word slip considering the issues at hand.

  4. MattD
    March 20, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    Teaching critical thinking skills is a better route (albeit more expensive then merely pulling the material) then supressing ideas.

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