The one where China censors the TV show Friends

Originally published at: The one where China censors the TV show Friends | Boing Boing


The pride that swells inside of me when I’m reminded I have never watched this f’ing show “Friends” .


I didn’t realize China was so prudish…

Is Joey’s “How you doin’?” Translated into, “Completely platonic greeting.”?


Not quite as extreme as this, but when Japanese anime was first dubbed/subtitled into English there were similar bowdlerizations, although that was perhaps more understandable given the idea that all animated things at the time must be child-friendly.




The Party’ll be there for you
(We know what’s best for you to grow)
The Party’ll be there for you
(Even if the Wall starts to fall)
The Party’ll be there for you
(And we are watching you too)


I wonder how much foreign media isn’t being censored to hell. It used to be they were extremely selective about what could be seen, but now it’s more open - but the content gets heavily altered. My favorite so far is what they apparently did to “Fight Club,” cutting off the end of the movie entirely and replacing it with text that everyone involved was arrested by the authorities before they could do anything.

Oh, it’s crazy - they’re censoring ear piercings on men, now. Seemingly out of nowhere, they got an authoritarian hair up their butts about “feminine” men and suddenly men weren’t allowed to have pierced ears. The problem was, all these pop stars had earrings, so they had to be blurred out in existing footage. Overnight all the Kpop-style bishonen in Chinese music had to butch themselves up just to still appear in the media.

Having worked for game companies releasing games in China, my first-hand experience with Chinese censors led me to the realization that their censorship is extremely arbitrary in both what they censor - a significant amount of it coming down to the feelings of the individuals doing the work (and deciding that they just “didn’t like it”) - and who was submitting the work to be judged (the more you’re politically connected, the less you’re censored). It’s a more extreme version of the MPAA’s movie rating board, which has had a lot of its problems pointed out over the years. It’s just that American movies and tv get censored during production so we don’t see the stuff that got cut/altered.

I think the '90s and early '00s were particularly bad for the censoring of foreign media in the US, but it tended to be (relatively) subtle. Though I’ve seen some pretty obvious - and somewhat hilarious - censoring of nudity in European films brought to the US. I think streaming opened things up.

Though there’s still social media - I was watching a video by a woman who talks about wearing a prosthetic leg, and all the social media companies had flagged her videos as “adult content” because of “disturbing images.” When she challenged their classification, they had humans review the decisions - and double down.


With all that need to show their strength you’d think they’d try to hide the fact that they’re laughably insecure little prudes.


Aw, no cheap offensive gay jokes? How sad.

Imagine if the writers of Friends had to be clever instead.


I’d argue that even a show that uses dated sitcom representations of non-heteronormative families is preferable to pretending such families don’t exist at all.


I dunno, I’d prefer to be left out completely rather than only trotted out to be the butt of jokes or a bogeyman. But that’s just my personal experience.

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It’s been a good long while since I saw that show so I guess I don’t remember if there were any homophobic jokes, though I don’t doubt a lot of the gags probably didn’t age well. I guess I just remember getting the impression that Ross was the one who usually came off looking like the butt of the joke in that relationship rather than his gay ex.


Must admit i just do not get the appeal of the sitcom genre.

Have been over with friends a few times and they’ve ended up watching them and extoling their virtues… I ended up reading books/comics on my phone, bored out of my mind by the TV (the friend interactions were good, just not the media)

Though i suspect i’m just wired differently…


Mutants Unite!


That’s how i can tell you’re straight. If you weren’t, you would remember this shit.


I was never a huge fan to begin with but I’ll take your word for it.


and their leader is sensitive because he looks like Winnie the Pooh.


A respectful portrayal would also be censored.


Being someone who until fairly recently just didn’t exist in mass media, I describe the experience of erasure in this manner: You aren’t even worth being a cheap joke, you simply do not exist. Your experiences and state of being are so low as to be a void within our culture. You are alone and unworthy of even negative attention.

No, I don’t believe any of that, of course, but there’s a huge cost to not seeing yourself in our stories, again, not even as a villain or a joke. That campy gay character in that 1960s movie or that Blaxploitation stereotype from the '70s is pretty crappy, but they are at least deemed worthy to exist.


i watched a few episodes but then realized they were like a cluster of folks i knew in my later college days who were, i guess, a lot of fun for each other but they made everyone around them miserable.