Chinese fans of the American sitcom Friends made #FriendsCensored the most trending topic on Weibo until the censors also censored that. Fans became angry after Chinese streaming platforms censored lesbian mentions in the popular show.
After the hashtag clocked over 54 million views on Friday night, the Chinese censors leapt into action. Searching for the hashtag now brings up a notification that ‘this topic is not shown according to relevant laws and regulations’.
Friends debuted in China in 2012 with no censorship. However, in 2016, the country issued guidelines that include banning storylines about gay relationships.
The Chinese censors disallow topics that ‘exaggerate the dark side of society’. The government deems issues like homosexuality, one-night stands and extramarital affairs as ‘vulgar, immoral and unhealthy’.
The original Chinese screenings of Friends ended in 2013. However, major Chinese streaming platforms recently purchased the rights to replay the series locally.
Streaming began on February 11.
In the first episode, conversations about Ross’s ex-wife divorcing him after realizing she’s a lesbian were censored. Likewise, the censors edited out Ross saying ‘there was only one woman’ for Carol.
Women can have
multiple orgasms endless gossips
Sexually suggestive comments also faced the chop.
When Ross mentions that ‘[Women can have] multiple orgasms’, the new subtitle read ‘Women have endless gossips’.
Chinese fans dissed the heavy-handed censorship as ‘an insult to our English language ability’.
Before the removal of comments from Weibo, one fan garnered 81,000 likes for her observation regarding the censorship.
“Not only does it ignore women’s sexual desire and enjoyment, but also reinforces the gender stereotype of women.”
In 2019, Chinese censors famously clipped two minutes from the film Bohemian Rhapsody. The cuts to the Queen biopic included scenes of two men kissing and the word gay.