Cleavage removed from ‘Empress of China’

Drama was pulled for ‘technical reasons’ believed to be related to its racy costumes

Still from The Empress of China: authorities have been on a crusade to introduce greater modesty and morality into public life in China

Still from The Empress of China: authorities have been on a crusade to introduce greater modesty and morality into public life in China

 

The historical costume drama The Empress of China, pulled from Chinese televisions screens for “technical reasons” believed to be related to its racy costumes, is back on TV, edited to focus on the characters’ heads rather than their cleavage.

The series, also known as The Saga of Wu Zetian, dramatises the life of China’s only female emperor, who ruled during the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907). It is reportedly China’s most expensive TV drama and features Fan Bingbing, a major star who featured in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

The Chinese government has been on a crusade to introduce greater modesty and morality into public life, and this has translated into tougher censorship rules for TV and movies.

The cleavage shots would not raise many eyebrows in the West but China has strict standards on public displays of nudity. In 2006, Gong Li’s eye-catching décolleté in director Zhang Yimou’s Curse of the Golden Flower caused a renewed debate about the need for a ratings system in China’s cinemas.

‘Technical reasons’

“Many viewers speculated the suspension was a punishment given by the country’s television regulators for the much-discussed revealing costumes of female characters on the show, which stirred online debate in which the female characters were dubbed “squeezed breasts”, the official news agency Xinhua reported.

The show’s first episode broke records for TV drama viewership, with the actresses’ low-cut dresses giving a photographer a nose bleed during shooting, according to news site ent.163.com.

Online reactions to the show’s demise and restoration varied. Some wrote how the close-ups of the faces made the narrative difficult to follow, but others were disturbed by the cleavage displays. “I can hardly look at the TV as there are so many breasts...” Jingjingmi-ko wrote on the microblog Sina Weibo.