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China censors LGBTQ-related plot lines with “Friends”

In the first episode, the conversation about Carol Willick, the ex-wife of the character Ross, who divorced him after realizing she was a lesbian, was deleted. Other sexually suggestive conversations have also been edited.

In the original version, Ross states that Carroll had “only one woman,” Carol leaves him to his friend Susan Bunch, and friend Joey asks if she knows she’s a lesbian. ..

Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer appear as six friends in New York City, “Friends” in China with a very loyal fan base. Very popular.

The show debuted uncensored on the Chinese streaming platform Sohu Video and iQiyi in 2012 and was available until the end of the streaming contract in 2013.

After the popularity of the 2021 special program Friends: The Reunion, in which six leading actors gathered to recollect the program, surged in popularity, a Chinese streaming platform purchased the program’s rights together.

Platforms such as Bilibili, Tencent, Youku, Sohu, and iQiyi started streaming “Friends” on February 11th.

Fans visited Weibo, a Chinese social media site to protest the show’s censorship, and #FriendsCensored became the site’s most trending topic.

The hashtag was played over 54 million times on the site on Friday night, but was then censored by the platform on Saturday morning, and the search results said, “This topic is not displayed in accordance with relevant laws and regulations.” It was displayed.

CNN is seeking comments from Bilibili, Tencent, Youku, Sohu, and iQiyi.

In the previous version of Sohu, Ross said,[Women can have] “Multiple orgasms” when discussing the advantages of men and women with friends at a cafe. However, in recent versions, the platform has replaced Ross Line’s Chinese subtitles with “Women have endless gossip,” even though the platform retains the original soundtrack and English subtitles. rice field.

Many netizens ridiculed this as “an insult to our English proficiency.” One Weibo user said, “Not only does it ignore women’s sexual desires and enjoyment, but it also strengthens women’s gender stereotypes.”

Censorship is the result of the Chinese government’s increased control of media and entertainment.

In 2016, China issued a new guideline that TV shows should not include storylines that include homosexual relationships or other topics that “exaggerate the dark side of society.” The eight-page document referred to “Vulgar, Immoral, and Unhealthy Content.” Homosexuality, marital relationships, one-night stands, and minor love are considered off limits.

When the British rock band Queen’s biography movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” was released in China in 2019, more than two minutes of LGBTQ content including the scene where two men kiss and the word “gay” came from the movie. It was erased.

CNN’s Jeevan Ravindran contributed to this report.

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