Censorship of ‘Friends’ LGBTQ plus storylines causes pushback from Chinese netizens

friends
  • China has reportedly censored LGBTQ plus storylines and references to “orgasms” from the 1994 classic sitcom “Friends” on streaming platforms, including Tencent, Youku, iQiyi and Bilibili.
  • Mentions of character Ross Geller’s ex-wife, Carol Willick, coming out as a lesbian and a scene in which other main cast members Chandler and Joey kiss on New Year’s Eve were removed from the TV show.
  • The Chinese subtitles were also changed in certain scenes referring to sex, including a reference to “multiple orgasms” which was purportedly changed to women “having endless gossips” in one scene.
  • The hashtag #FriendsCensored became the No. 1 trending topic on Weibo on Friday, with many Chinese fans expressing their disappointment; however, the hashtag was reportedly deleted the next day.

Adding to China’s list of censored films and shows, LGBTQ plus storylines and references to “orgasms” have been removed from the 1994 classic American sitcom “Friends” across streaming platforms in the country.

The sitcom was relaunched on streaming platforms in China on Friday, but many Chinese fans expressed their disappointment on Weibo after noticing that mentions of character Ross Geller’s ex-wife, Carol Willick, coming out as a lesbian was cut from the TV show.

“Seriously, If you can’t broadcast [the complete version], just don’t do it at all,” a Weibo user stated, according to the South China Morning Post. “[The streaming video platforms] spent big bucks to buy the rights [to the show], but efforts to alter lines and edit out scenes ended up being slammed by the audience. What for?”

China also reportedly removed a scene in which main characters Chandler Bing and Joey Tribbiani share a same-sex kiss on New Year’s Eve, in addition to changing Chinese subtitles in certain scenes referring to sex, according to The Washington Post. A reference to “multiple orgasms,” for example, was apparently changed to women “having endless gossips” in one scene. In another scene, Joey’s encouragement of Ross to visit a strip club was translated to “go out and have fun.”

With the show currently available on Chinese streaming platforms, including Tencent, Youku, iQiyi and Bilibili, the hashtag #FriendsCensored became the No. 1 trending topic on Weibo on Friday; however, the hashtag was reportedly deleted the next day, according to The Washington Post. 

“The newly launched version of ‘Friends’ is not only a deletion problem, but also a translation problem,” one Weibo user said. “What I am most speechless about is that when the coffee shop is arguing about the difference between men and women, three of the four websites have translated the female advantage multiple orgasms into ‘Women have said endless gossip.’ [This] not only ignores women’s physical sexual needs and enjoyment, but also aggravates the stereotype of women.”

“I would say that civilization is going backwards,” another user commented.

The 2021 special production of the sitcom “Friends: The Reunion” was also censored on Chinese streaming platforms, with the appearances of Justin Bieber, BTS, Lady Gaga and a gay man from Germany removed, according to Complex.  

China has also recently been called out for altering the ending of David Fincher’s 1999 film “Fight Club.” Its original ending was only restored last week following widespread backlash. Last year, an episode from “The Simpsons” that referenced the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre was also banned on Disney Plus in Hong Kong.

 

Featured Images via TBS

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