Homosexuality is not allowed in China. Chinese censorship has cracked down on the American series Friends. The decision angered fans of the American series, especially on social networks.
The long-awaited return of the cult 1990s series to Chinese streaming sites on Friday, February 11 was disrupted when fans noticed the disappearance of any reference to the homosexuality of one of the female characters. On the Weibo social network, the equivalent of Twitter in China, the hashtag #friendscensored has been viewed tens of millions of times.
In the viewfinder, the changes made to the second episode of the first season, as broadcast by the platforms Bilibili, Tencent, iQiyi and Youku. “I discovered that all the dialogues mentioning the homosexuality of Carol, the ex-wife of Ross, had been cut. The cuts are obvious”writes a user whose post has generated more than 177,000 “likes”.
The communist power has increased in recent years its censorship of “sensitive” themes in its eyes such as sexuality, violence or politics, particularly in imported works.
An attitude that arouses the irony of some Internet users. “Why talk about homosexuality? There is no such thing here, where eternal perfection reigns. Everyone is happy under this government”, scoffs another Weibo user. These criticisms were in turn deleted from the social network and the subversive keyword was replaced on Sunday with a question: “Why is Friends so popular? »
The series, broadcast from 1994 to 2004 in the United States, is very well known in China, where millions of people have watched it on DVD. Many young Chinese say they learned English with the help of Friendswhich had previously been streamed by Sohu, between 2012 and 2013, uncensored.
It is difficult to say whether the changes made to the episodes of Friends were imposed by the authorities. In 2019, several scenes of Bohemian Rhapsody referring to the sexuality of Freddie Mercury, the singer of the group Queen, had also been erased from the version broadcast in China.
More recently, David Fincher’s cult film fight club aroused the amazement of moviegoers, for a truncated end at the antipodes of the original work. After an outcry, the film’s ending was finally retconned. Some producers sometimes take it upon themselves to cut scenes from films or series in the hope of obtaining authorization for the Chinese market.