søndag 30. mai 2021

Friends reunion: the one where China censors its guest stars

For many Chinese millennials, the US sitcom Friends was a window to the American way of life. Teachers would use the show to help students learn English. Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai have Friends-themed Central Perk cafes. So when news that the original cast were to hold a reunion special nearly 20 years after the show was first introduced into China, diehard fans were excited, and some of China’s biggest online streaming platforms bought the rights to broadcast the show.

But eagle-eyed viewers complained on Thursday that some of the much-talked-about scenes in the original 104-minute runtime were missing. The missing scenes featured guest stars such as the boyband BTS, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber – all of whom have caused controversy in China. Some concluded that the celebrities were censored because of previous negative headlines. There were also reports that mentions of LGBTQ subjects were censored.

Censorship is not rare in China. But it is not immediately clear whether the cuts were as a result of orders by regulators , or action taken by streamers as a precautionary measure.