Chinese sites accused of censoring Friends’ LGBT content

Friends ended in 2004 after 10 seasons but has remained hugely popular worldwide ever since.

Several Chinese streaming platforms have been accused of censoring the LGBT storylines of the hit American sitcom Friends.

The show was rebroadcast in China earlier this week on Alibaba’s Tencent, Bilibili, Sohu, iQiyi and Youku.

But Chinese fans have complained about the deletion of scenes, including those referencing a lesbian character and another featuring a gay kiss.

It’s unclear why the scenes were deleted, and neither platform has publicly responded to the accusations.

The show, which ran from 1994 to 2004, is based in New York and revolves around a group of friends played by Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt Le Blanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer. .

Friends has a massive following in China, with many Chinese millennials crediting the show with teaching them English and introducing them to American culture.

Sohu held the broadcast rights between 2012 and 2018 and aired uncensored full episodes at the time.

But Chinese fans shared their dismay on social media over the re-release and its omissions.

In one instance, dialogue was cut off about a character’s ex-wife, Ross, who left him after realizing she was a lesbian.

Incorrect captions were also used to downplay sexual references, reports the South China Morning Post. In one scene, the phrase “multiple orgasms” was translated into the Chinese phrase for “women have endless gossip.”

“Not only does this ignore women’s sexual desire and pleasure… [it] also reinforces the gender stereotype of women,” wrote one user on social media site Weibo, according to CNN.

“If you can’t show the full version in the current atmosphere, then don’t upload it,” wrote another.

Several users called for a boycott of the show in protest.

The hashtag #FriendsCensored has become a popular term on Weibo in recent days. But on Sunday, searches for the hashtag and other variants returned zero or limited results, indicating the talks may have caught the attention of Chinese censors.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga’s appearance at a Friends reunion was cut from Chinese broadcasts last year

In recent years, China has shut down tens of thousands of websites and social media accounts containing “vulgar” and pornographic content, as well as other content deemed illegal or anti-Chinese.

Scenes featuring Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and K-Pop group BTS were cut from a friends reunion special aired last year.

It’s unclear why the musicians were removed from the final show, but all three have previously been accused of insulting China. Lady Gaga, for example, was banned from touring the country after meeting the Dalai Lama in 2016.

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