‘Friends’: the one where China censors Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber | Show biz


“Friends: The Reunion” airs concurrently with the US on HBO GO at 3:01 pm on May 27. – Photo courtesy of HBO Max

BEIJING, May 29 – Chinese fans of the popular sitcom Friends were furious after censors cut guest stars Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Korean boy band BTS from the long-awaited reunion episode.

When the beloved 1990s sitcom special was broadcast on three Chinese video platforms, the celebrity cameos who all incurred the wrath of the ruling Communist Party were removed from all versions.

Lady Gaga was banned from touring China in 2016 after meeting exiled Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, who has been called a separatist by Beijing.

Bieber has been stranded since 2014, when he posted a photo of himself at the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo that honors the war dead of Japan, including war criminals convicted of WWII.

Boyband BTS angered the party last year by omitting any reference to Chinese fighters who died in the Korean War when talking about the “history of pain” in the region.

Chinese fans were also quick to point out that local versions of Friends: Reunion removed all LGBTQ references from the special, which was several minutes shorter than the 104-minute show that aired globally on HBO Max on Thursday.

Chinese streaming services iQiyi, Youku and Tencent Video did not respond to AFP’s questions about the reasons for the censorship.

The sitcom about Six White New Yorkers is a huge hit among Chinese millennials and is even recommended in schools as a way to learn English.

The popularity of the show has also spawned Central Perk cafes in several Chinese cities, inspired by the hangout regularly featured on the show.

Angry fans took to social media to express their frustration with the censorship.

“I waited weeks to watch the Friends meeting to find out that the version released in China was all mutilated, ”one user wrote.

“Why can’t the censors just let us enjoy a sitcom?” Another asked.

Winning the wrath of Chinese authorities has become costly for artists after China last year became the global box office surpassing the United States.

Earlier this week, American wrestler and actor John Cena apologized after shaking a hornet’s nest by referring to Taiwan as a country when promoting his latest film Fast and Furious 9. Beijing regards the democratic island as a renegade province. – AFP


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