Chinese streaming platforms censored another Hollywood hit, but this time they didn’t alter an anti-government terrorist plot, just some network sanitized 90’s sex talk.
Communist censors mangled “Friends” by mistranslating baudy subtitles and cutting suggestive scenes, even going as far as editing out a series long storyline. References to Ross’ wife Carol leaving him for a woman and coming out as a lesbian were eredicated from the show.
In the Chinese variant of “A Chronicle of Old Friends,” a joke about women having “multiple orgasms” was changed to “having endless gossip.” Joey suggests that Ross “go out and have fun” after he gets his heart broken, but in our version Joey tells Ross to hit up a strip club like an American.
Jinping Xi led China tightened broadcast guidelines on “vulgar, immoral and unhealthy content,” including homosexuality, adultery, drinking, and smoking in 2016, and last year added fan culture, internet celebrities, and “effeminite men” to the regulation list.
The nearly 30-year-old NBC smash hit was recently released on multiple major streaming networks in the country, and fans have already noticed the less-than-subtle changes to the comedy. “The edit-out is so over the top, and I will not watch it anymore,” one streamer said.
The hashtag #FriendsCensored trended on top social media platform Weibo, but predictably, was censored itself from search results to quell the viewer uproar.
Letting dissidents rage online for too long has proven to be detrimental to the cause. In China’s most recent censorship controversy, insane social media backlash to the altered ending of “Fight Club” caused streamer Tencent to revert back to the original cut.
The conclusion had been changed from Brad Pitt’s character successfully bombing the nation’s financial systems, to an authoritarian friendly text screen, that described how the police stopped the terrorist plot and the protagonist was institutionalized.
Director David Fincher said licensing contracts will have to further define what edits are allowed to avoid this type of censorship in the future. “If you don’t like this story, why would you license this movie?” He questioned.
“It makes no sense to me when people go, ‘I think it would be good for our service if we had your title on it…we just want it to be a different movie.’ The f–king movie is 20 years old,” Fincher remarked. “It’s not like it had a reputation for being super cuddly.”