In 2014, fans of the popular American sitcom The Big Bang Theory in China were outraged when the show was suddenly banned from streaming on the country’s largest platform, Sohu. The Chinese government offered little explanation beyond stating that the show was “provoking troubles in society”. This vague rationale left many speculating as to the true motivations behind the ban.
One particularly intriguing aspect was the Chinese government’s concern about not wanting “losers to be trendy.” This article explores this unique angle, examining the cultural context, implications, and reactions to the ban.
The Ban: A Focus on “Losers”
“The Big Bang Theory,” known for its geeky characters and intellectual humor, had a massive following in China. However, the Chinese State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) pulled the show from the country’s largest streaming service, Sohu, in 2014.
The “Diaosi” Phenomenon
The term “diaosi,” slang for loser, was trending in China around the time of the ban. Many viewers used the word to describe the group of friends on “The Big Bang Theory.” A 2013 Sohu survey revealed that 80% of respondents aged 24 to 34 “self-identified as diaosi,” considering it a badge of honor rather than a derogatory term.
The government’s concern was that the younger population was idolizing the “losers” in the show, possibly affecting the future of China’s economic well-being. The ban was seen by some as a move to suppress this cultural trend.
Reactions to the Ban
Chinese fans were deeply disappointed by the ban, expressing their emotions on social media platforms like Weibo. The show had become more than just entertainment; it was a symbol of individualism and self-acceptance.
The ban also ignited a cultural debate in China. Critics argued that the government’s attempt to control the portrayal of “losers” was an infringement on freedom of expression and individuality. Others saw it as a reflection of the Communist Party’s desire to maintain a particular social narrative.
The Lifting of the Ban and Continued Impact
The ban on The Big Bang Theory was lifted in July 2015, and “The Big Bang Theory” returned to Sohu TV. However, the incident continued to resonate as a symbol of the tension between government control and cultural expression.
Other Shows Banned In China
“South Park,” known for its controversial and often politically incorrect humor, was banned in China after an episode titled “Band in China” aired in 2019. The episode satirized China’s censorship and influence over American entertainment. In response, the Chinese government removed all episodes and mentions of “South Park” from the country’s internet.
The animated series “BoJack Horseman” was pulled from China’s streaming service iQiyi just a few days after its debut in 2017. The show’s dark humor and adult themes were believed to be the reason behind the ban, although no official explanation was provided.
Surprisingly, the beloved sitcom “Friends” also faced a ban in China. Certain episodes were removed from streaming platforms due to content deemed inappropriate by the government. The exact reasoning remains unclear, but it’s speculated that themes of sexuality and certain political undertones led to the censorship.
“The Simpsons,” a show known for its satirical take on American culture, has also faced censorship in China. Specific episodes that portrayed the Chinese government and its leaders in a negative light were removed from streaming platforms.