China Censors BTS and Lady Gaga in Friends Reunion: 5 Other Stars Who Are Also Banned
Chinese fans of the popular sitcom Friends were furious after censors cut guest stars Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Korean boyband BTS from the much-awaited reunion episode.
When the one-off special of the beloved 1990s sitcom was streamed on three Chinese video platforms, cameos by the celebrities who have all incurred the wrath of the ruling Communist Party were removed from all versions.
Lady Gaga was banned from touring China in 2016 after she met with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, who has been labelled as a separatist by Beijing.
Justin Bieber has been blocked since 2014 when he posted a photo of himself at the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo that honours Japan's war dead, including convicted war criminals from World War II.
Boyband BTS angered the party last year when they omitted any reference to Chinese fighters who died during the Korean War when speaking about the "history of pain" in the region.
Chinese fans were also quick to point out that local versions of Friends: The Reunion expunged all LGBTQ references from the special, which was several minutes shorter than the 104-minute show released worldwide on HBO Max last week.
Chinese streaming services iQiyi, Youku and Tencent Video did not answer AFP queries about what prompted the censorship.
The sitcom about six white New Yorkers has a huge following among Chinese millennials and is even recommended in schools as a way to learn English.
The show's popularity has also spawned Central Perk cafes in several Chinese cities, styled after the hangout regularly featured in the show.
Angry fans took to social media to vent out their frustration at the censorship.
"I was waiting for weeks to watch the Friends reunion only to find that the version streamed in China was all mangled," wrote one user.
"Why can't the censors just let us enjoy a sitcom?" asked another.
Earning the wrath of Chinese authorities has become costly for entertainers after China became the world's box office last year surpassing the United States.
Keep reading to find out who some of the other popular celebrities who are banned from entering China.
1/5 Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez is a fairly unproblematic celebrity who has not been involved in very many scandals in her time in the spotlight. However, the singer-actress was banned from China in 2014 when a photo of the star posing with the Dalai Lama went viral. The Dalai Lama is banned in China and citizens there can get arrested for owning photos of him in Tibet.
As a result of that picture, Gomez had all her shows in the country cancelled subsequently and is banned from performing in China.
2/5 Gigi Hadid
In 2017, Gigi Hadid had to miss out on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Shanghai because her visa was denied.
It is believed she was banned because of a video that came out showing her narrowing her eyes as she attempted to mimic the Buddha shape of a cookie. The video angered many people and likely the Chinese government as well.
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3/5 Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus is well known for growing up on the Disney Channel as Hannah Montana and then developing into the mega superstar she is today with many albums and worldwide fame.
However, Cyrus offended the Chinese government when she posted a photo of herself imitating Asians. She had pulled the skin around her eyes back and, in doing so, mocked the Chinese.
While Cyrus apologised twice, she remains banned from the country.
4/5 Katy Perry
Known for her catchy pop songs and vibrant personality, Katy Perry is quite the star around the globe. However, in 2015, Perry faced criticism from China during one of her concerts when she decided to put on the Taiwanese national flag like a cape with her dress.
This angered several netizens and when China got wind of it, they banned Perry from even entering Chinese territory indefinitely.
Related: Friends Reunion: Everything We Know So Far
5/5 Brad Pitt
In 1996, Brad Pitt played the role of an Austrian mountaineer in the movie, Seven Years in Tibet. He picked up an Austrian accent for the role but his performance was heavily criticised.
China, however, was unhappy with the way the film showcased the 14th Dalai Lama in a positive role and how the Chinese army was painted negatively. As a result, both Brad Pitt and Jean-Jacques Annaud, the director of the film, were banned from China.
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