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China Edits Out BTS’s Scene From ‘Friends: The Reunion,’ Fans Angered by Excessive Censorship

Published on May 28, 2021

China has edited out the scenes of BTS and other celebrities who made a guest appearance on “Friends: The Reunion.”

Keep on reading to know more.

China Edits Out BTS’s Scene From “Friends: The Reunion,” Fans Angered by Excessive Censorship

A special episode of the popular American sitcom “Friends” was recently released, where the cast reunited for “Friends: The Reunion” and was broadcasted on HBO Max. Besides the original cast, numerous celebrities also made a guest appearance on the episode, including global superstars BTS.

On May 27 local time, American media, Variety, reported that China’s top streaming platforms had edited out around six minutes of footage from the “Friends: The Reunion” special – including BTS’s scene. BTS was edited out due to their “insults” against China, while the other scenes were edited out due to references on LGBTQ, among many other moments.

Over the years, the “Friends” sitcom had garnered a big following in China, and many have expressed their excitement and anticipation on the reunion special across various social media platforms.

However, many Chinese fans were shocked to find that the country’s three major streaming platforms, Alibaba’s Youku, Tencent Video, and iQiyi, which had rights to officially broadcast the show, had entirely edited out appearances by BTS, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and other special moments in the reunion.

Chinese fans had expressed their anger on China’s excessive censorship, asking if the “country is reverting back to the isolationist Qing dynasty and closing itself off to the entire world,” a fan commented on Weibo.

While there are fans who have voiced out their anger, there are also those who showed their support for China’s censorship on the scenes and celebrities, stating that those who have slandered China should be banned.

Why Was BTS Edited Out?

In October 2020, BTS made headlines in China for supposedly “insulting” the country after failing to mention the sacrifices Chinese soldiers made during the Korean War in a speech for a prize acceptance that celebrated BTS’s contributions to relations between the United States and South Korea – with China having no direct relation to.

BTS, who only appeared on the show for a total of 13 seconds, used that moment to express their love for the American sitcom, with RM mentioning how “Friends” have really taught him about life and true friendship.

With around six minutes of footage gone from the episode, Youku had a runtime of 1:40:16, Tencent Video with 1:39:23, and iQiyi with 1:37:54, while HBO Max’s original version is at 1:43:50. After eight hours of its release, Youku and Tencent Video made further edits to match iQiyi’s runtime.

China’s continuous excessive censorship is described as a way to “purify” the mounting “immoral industry” within online entertainment, fan culture, and celebrities in the country. Earlier in May, several fan accounts of BTS on Weibo were banned for using the platform to incite “undesirable fan behavior.”

However, as many Chinese netizens have become tired of the excessive censorship, they have resulted in using bypasses, pirated versions, and watching uncensored and unauthorized versions on other platforms.

What are your thoughts on China’s censorship?