The Chinese government — guilty of several human rights violations — is cracking down on the 1990s sitcom “Friends,” claiming the series is “immoral.”
Streaming platforms like Bilibili, Tencent, Youku, Sohu, and iQiyi began airing the series Feb. 11, according to CNN, after the recent HBO Max special, “Friends: The Reunion,” proved popular with Chinese viewers.
Several of the show’s scenes, however, have been censored. Chinese gatekeepers have scrubbed scenes from the show that depict homosexuality, one-night stands, adultery, or underage romance. The censorship follows content guidelines put in place in 2016 by President Xi Jinping, whose regime banned any same-sex content, calling it “vulgar, immoral and unhealthy,” The Guardian reported at the time.
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That same year, Xi visited three of China’s state-run media outlets, demanding “absolute loyalty,” telling executives they must align with communism and obey his regime in “thought, politics, and action.”
As a result of the crackdown from Xi’s regime, several of the scenes in “Friends” have been cut or the dialogue has been significantly altered to no longer reflect the sitcom’s original storyline.
The suppression garnered so much attention from angry fans in China that the hashtag “#FriendsCensored” began trending on the Chinese social media app Weibo. It received more than 54 million mentions before state censors pulled it down completely. CNN reported Weibo took down the hashtag, claiming it could no longer host the content and remain in accordance with “relevant laws and regulations.”
Apparently, though, many Chinese viewers didn’t fall for the government’s attempt to change the sitcom’s storyline by re-writing the captions. Many fans of the show saw the censorship as an “insult to our English language ability.”
The irony here, of course, is China’s reasoning. Xi’s government is calling an erstwhile sitcom “immoral” and “unhealthy” as it is — according to governments around the globe — actively committing genocide against its Muslim minority population, the Uyghurs.
Two U.S. administrations, former President Donald Trump and current President Joe Biden, have accused the Chinese government of committing genocide. In fact, dozens of countries, as well as the United Nations, have expressed serious concern about the alleged human rights violations being carried out against the Uyghur peoples.
That’s why many Americans are refusing to watch this year’s Winter Olympics, underway in Beijing. According to CBN News, activists in the U.S. and elsewhere have condemned the games as the “Genocide Olympics.”
Todd Nettleton, chief of media relations for the Voice of the Martyrs, is using the attention on China to raise awareness about the plight of persecuted Christians in the communist country.
“Christians are seen as a threat, their message is seen as a threat, and the government is doing everything in their power to keep that message from spreading,” he told CBN, announcing the launch of PrayForChina2022.com, a website to remind people to pray for believers in China.
“We’re going to see figure skating, we’re going to see ski jumping,” he continued. “We’ll probably see a lot of great shots of the Great Wall of China. We want every one of those things to be a reminder: ‘Hey, I have Christian brothers and sisters in China who are suffering because of the name of Jesus Christ.’ This is a great time to pray for them.”
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