Censorship in China is the order of the day. It is usual for series and films to be subjected to stinging so that they conform to morality according to the Communist Party of China and that westernist messages do not reach the citizens. Of course, it does not cease to surprise when a new victim of censorship appears as is the case of Friends: The Reunion. What is offensive or troubling about the mythical American sitcom?
As reported by the BBC, the platforms iQiyi, Youku and Tencent Video offer in China a version of less than 98 minutes when the American version lasts almost 104. How can this be? Well, because they have eliminated a string of guests such as Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and the group BTS, and two old scenes from Friends that in theory could hurt the sensibilities of the audience.
Justin Bieber is banned from performing in China for his behavior on the Great Wall and for uploading a photograph at the Japanese shrine of Yasukuni
Justin Bieber, for example, has been detested by authorities since he visited the Great Wall in 2013 and was carried on his shoulders by bodyguards, which was considered disrespectful. It also didn’t help when in 2014 he visited the Japanese shrine of Yasukuni, which honors Japanese forces that fought against China and Korea. Back in 2017 they prevented Bieber from performing in China. They reported that he was a talented singer but that it was better to “purify the Chinese market and show business” and that it was better not to bring in “ill-mannered artists”.
In the case of Lady Gaga, the censorship has to do with the encounter the actress and singer had with the Dalai Lama in 2016. Anyone who has contact with the Tibetan leader becomes persona non grata for the empire. And, as for the Korean BTS sweeping the international market, it all comes from a comment made by RM, one of the band members. Here, for example, the fragment with Lady Gaga:
In October 2020, he said South Korea shared a “history of grief” with the United States over the Korean War in which they fought side by side. This statement upset Beijing because China supported North Korea in that war, which basically pitted two economic models against capitalism.
The other tijeretazos? Statements from a gay fan who remembers wanting Jennifer Aniston’s hairstyle on Friends when she watched the series or a gay girl who confessed the importance of the sitcom in her life, while briefly presenting her partner, another woman.
Seeing is believing
The image of Matt LeBlanc in underpants and with a photograph of David Schwimmer on the package is also too unseathed to be broadcast in China
And, while China’s homophobia is already more than known (many studios make sure to include easily cut-out LGBT characters or scenes to penetrate this Asian market), two other missing scenes are surprising: a fake shot where Matt LeBlanc appears in underpants with a photograph of David Schwimmer in the package or the mythical scene of Friends where the characters told if they had had to piss on Monica after she was bit by a jellyfish.