Classic American drama “Old Friends” reunion special broadcast in China was cut

The reunion special of the classic American drama “Friends” is aired in a censored version on the Chinese platform.

According to Deutsche Welle on May 29, the long-awaited reunion special of the classic American sitcom “Friends” (The Reunion) went online this Thursday (May 27). The Reunion was released on HBO Max at 104 minutes, while the version broadcast on Chinese video platforms was a few minutes shorter. Under the introduction of the film on Douban, a well-known Chinese community website, the length of the film is shown as 104 minutes/98 minutes (abridged version). One wonders what was cut and why it was cut.

According to a comparison made by an AFP reporter, cameos by internationally known singers Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and the South Korean boy band Bulletproof Boys (BTS) were cut, as well as content about LGBTQ sexual minorities. “-Alternative Nation-“, a well-known music blogger with nearly 100,000 followers on Sina Weibo, additionally discovered Friday that the words “pneumonia virus” and “embryo” appeared in the version broadcast on Chinese video site Youku, as well as the words “pneumonia virus” and “embryo” in the version about women’s sensitive zones. The words “pneumonia virus” and “embryo” were also removed from the version that aired on Chinese video site Youku, as well as content about women’s sensitive zones.

Although the three Chinese online platforms that simulcast “Old Friends” with HBO Max did not give a specific reason, speculation was made as follows.

Lady Gaga had caused an uproar in 2016 when she met with Tibetan exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, and the American star has since been banned from touring China and had her work taken down by Beijing authorities.

Canadian singer Justin Bieber, who first became popular in the United States, posted a photo of himself at the Yasukuni Shrine on the social media site Instagram in 2014. Many Chinese fans said their “feelings were hurt”. Bieber thus deleted the post and issued an apology. He was banned from performing in China in 2017, with the Beijing Cultural Bureau giving the following reason: “It is understood that as a public figure, he had a series of bad behaviors in his social life outside of China and in his performance activities in China that caused public discontent. In order to regulate the order of the domestic performance market and purify the performance market environment, it is therefore inappropriate to introduce performers with bad behavior.”

In his acceptance speech in 2020, RM, the leader of the Bulletproof Boys team, mentioned the painful history between Korea and the US, remembering the “countless sacrifices of men and women” in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. In the history of the Korean War, South Korean and American troops fought against North Korean and Chinese communist troops, which led to the controversy of “insulting China”.

Some fans were surprised to learn that they were watching the censored version: “I didn’t know that “Friends” could be censored?” Some angrily questioned, “Don’t we Chinese viewers deserve to watch the full version?” “I paid a special membership fee, but I still can’t watch the full version.”

The AFP report noted that earlier this week, American actor John Cena, who was in Taiwan to promote his latest film “Fast & Furious 9,” referred to Taiwan as a country, which he later apologized for on Chinese social media platforms.