Major Chinese streaming platforms have censored the storyline of the cult series Friends, which is very popular in China, prompting protests from the show’s fans on social media.
The show, which stars the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer, has an extremely loyal fan base in China after debuting on Chinese streaming platforms Sohu video and iQiyi in 2012 for one of the year. Several Chinese streamers recently acquired Friends, which began airing again on Friday.
One episode removed a discussion of Ross’s ex-wife Carol Willick, who divorced him after she came out as a lesbian. CNN reported that other sexually suggestive conversations were similarly cut.
In another original uncensored version, Ross says:[women can have] multiple orgasms.”
But in the current censored version, streaming platforms have replaced the Chinese subtitle of Ross’s line with “women have endless gossip” despite retaining the original English subtitle.
The series originally aired without any censorship and was available uncensored until the streaming deal ended in 2013.
However, after the 2021 special “Friends: Reunion”, in which the six main actors got together for the first time since the end of the show, several major Chinese streaming platforms have acquired broadcast rights to show the show in China.
Censorship is nothing new to those living in China as the Chinese government tightens its grip on media and entertainment and what its citizens may or may not watch.
Jennifer Aniston (left to right), Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc in a scene from the Friends special
Pictured: “The Two-Part Episode: Part 1,” one of several episodes of “Friends” to be censored in China after streaming platforms removed any mention of lesbianism from the episode.
“The Breast Milk Episode” is another episode of Friends that has been censored on Chinese streaming platforms due to its portrayal of lesbians, the uncensored scene pictured above.
In 2016, China released a new eight-page set of rules for TV shows, including things like gay storylines and topics that “exaggerate the dark side of society.”
The document also mentions “vulgar, immoral and unhealthy content”, including homosexuality, underage love, extramarital affairs and one-night stands, which are also prohibited.
Chinese streaming platforms that recently acquired Friends include Tencent, Bilibili, Youku, Sohu, and iQiyi; they began airing the show from February 11.
Meanwhile, fans of the show have since taken to Weibo, a Chinese social network, to protest the show’s censorship.
The #FriendsCensored hashtag has become one of the hottest topics since the show’s first episode aired, which amassed more than 54 million views on the site on Friday night.
In response to an episode in which Ross discusses the female orgasm, one Weibo user wrote that “not only does this ignore female sexual desire and pleasure, it reinforces the gender stereotype of women.”
This comment has received over 81,000 likes as of Saturday.
Ironically, the hashtag itself was censored on the platform by Saturday morning, with search results showing “this topic is not being displayed in accordance with relevant laws and regulations.”
Chinese viewers were also outraged in 2021 after their country’s three streaming services censored a long-awaited friends reunion.
iQIYI, Youku, and Tencent Video have acquired the streaming rights for the blockbuster TV, which was released worldwide on May 27, 2021.
While fans in other markets saw the full 104-minute show, episodes released in China were significantly shorter.
Weibo (left) is a Chinese social network where fans of the series protested against censorship. Chinese streaming platform Bilibili (right) began broadcasting the show in February.
Chinese streaming platforms that recently acquired Friends include Tencent, which began streaming on the service on February 11.
Cut in China! Lady Gaga made a cameo appearance at the Friends reunion special, performing “Smelly Cat”. He was not in the Chinese special.
Services have cut guest appearances by Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and South Korean boy band BTS. They also removed references to the LGBT community, according to The New York Times.
It is currently unclear if the broadcasts were censored due to a Chinese government directive.
The show is loved by Chinese millennials, many of whom have used the show to learn English, according to The Times.
At the time, many of them took to Chinese social media to criticize streaming services for censorship, with one writing, “This is crazy if you’re presenting a show in China, don’t cut the scene.” If you need to shorten it, then don’t enter it. What is the meaning of this castrated content?
Lady Gaga is currently banned from tours in China after she angered the country’s officials by meeting the Dalai Lama in 2016.
The pop icon made a cameo appearance at a friends reunion, singing a rendition of “Smelly Cat,” a song made famous by Lisa Kudrow’s character, Phoebe.
Meanwhile, Justin Bieber has been banned from entering China since 2017.
Justin Bieber has been banned from entering China since 2017. His appearance was cut from the Friends special.
He angered officials from the communist country back in 2014 when he posted a photo of himself at a shrine honoring Japanese military leaders. There has been hostile relations between the two countries for a long time.
Bieber’s bad boy antics, including his visit to a Brazilian brothel, drew further disapproval from the Chinese government.
In 2017, the China Cultural Bureau released a statement stating that the pop star is no longer welcome in the country, stating, “In order to maintain order in the Chinese market and clean up the Chinese performance environment, it is unacceptable to attract misbehaving artists.” ‘.
BTS also angered Chinese officials when they revealed South Korea’s shared “pain story” with the United States over the Korean War last year.
China supported North Korea during the three-year conflict that lasted from 1950 to 1953.
The Chinese market has become increasingly important to Hollywood producers over the past decade, but the country’s government is only too happy to censor actors and productions that criticize their policies.
China also recently censored Fight Club, radically editing the original ending of the cult classic Fight Club to comply with the country’s restrictive censorship rules.
David Fincher’s 1999 film version starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton was made available in China on the Tencent Video streaming platform over the weekend.
A 1999 David Fincher film version starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton was made available in China on the Tencent Video streaming platform.
In the closing scenes of the 1999 film Fight Club, Norton’s character, along with Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter), watches several buildings explode.
But, much to the dismay of fans in China, Fight Club was drastically edited to transform the anarchist, anti-capitalist message that made the film a worldwide hit.
Instead of blowing up several buildings like in the original ending, the authorities win in the new censored version.
China has some of the strictest censorship rules in the world, with authorities approving the release of several foreign films each year, sometimes with significant cuts.
In the final scenes of the original, Norton’s character the Narrator kills his imaginary alter ego Tyler Durden, played by Pitt, and then watches several buildings explode along with Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter), suggesting his character’s plan to destroy modern civilization. In progress.
In the censored version released in China, the Narrator still kills Durden, but the scene of buildings exploding is replaced with a written message on a black screen: “The police quickly figured out the whole plan and arrested all the perpetrators, successfully preventing the bomb from going off.” .’
He then adds that Tyler – a figment of the Narrator’s imagination – was sent to a “mental asylum” for psychological treatment and later released.
The new ending, in which the state triumphs, has outraged many Chinese viewers, many of whom have likely seen pirated versions of the original film.
But in the censored version released in China, the scene of buildings exploding is replaced with a written message on a black screen: “The police quickly figured out the whole plan and arrested all the criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding.”
In 2021, Chinese officials criticized actor John Cena after he inadvertently got involved in a political controversy while promoting his new movie Fast & Furious 9.
The star stated on Taiwanese television that Taiwan will be “the first country” to see the new film.
This seemingly innocent remark has angered Chinese officials who do not consider Taiwan an independent state.
Cena, feeling the heat of criticism from Chinese fans, recorded an apology video, which he posted on Weibo on Tuesday, where he has 600,000 followers.
He humbled himself: “Hi China, I’m John Cena… I made one mistake… I love and respect China and the Chinese people. I am very, very sorry for my mistake.
He was called “pathetic” and “spineless” for a message that critics say is just the latest example of Hollywood and big business bowing to China out of fear of retribution.
Pen America, a New York-based free speech organization, published a revealing report last year about how Hollywood has repeatedly succumbed to pressure from China for fear of losing the money it represents to the industry.