The big-budget Chinese historical TV drama, The Empress of China (aka The Saga of Wu Zetian) made its return last week after a sudden cancellation in late December. Hawk-eyed viewers can’t help but notice that the show seems to have made some rather sizable changes during its hiatus. Let’s see if you can pick up on it. The stills on the left are from the most recent episode of The Empress.
Not getting it? Let’s try a few more…
Yup, close-up shots of the actresses’ faces have replaced the wide-angle shots, and so all that glorious historical cleavage is gone.
The show opened to a great deal of fanfare, hosting popular names like Fan Bingbing and Zhang Junning, and with a budget that made it one of the most expensive shows that China has ever produced. It tells the story of China’s only known empress, who rules during the Tang Dynasty and apparently owns a vast variety of low-cut dresses. According to Global Times, the show sports a collection of 3,000 costumes costing some 10 million yuan.
The series premiered on December 21, but was removed a week later for “technical reasons” – allowing censors the time they needed to hide away all the ample assets of the actresses (see: their squeezed breasts).
Viewers aren’t happy with this drastic loss in eye candy. Some argue that the show has lost its aesthetic values, while others think it is no longer historically reliable. Many have gone online to vent about a show that they say has become a “bighead drama” or “The Bigheads of China.”
One netizen defended the historical accuracy of the drama’s revealing clothing choices: “In Tang Dynasty, the higher a woman’s social status, the lower her neckline. I didn’t have a thorough study on how low their neckline is, but I think it shows that the drama should follow the historical facts. No matter if the show is good or not, I don’t agree with the media regulator’s measures.”
The vast majority seem to agree. A survey conducted by Sina Weibo asks the simple question: “Cleavage scenes cut, yes or no?” A resounding 95 percent voted pro-cleavage.
The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) has not responded to inquiries about its editorial choices, but it does have a few supporters out there.
“I support the SAPPRFT. The cleavages are all squeezed. It is no different than forging and selling fake goods,” one netizen wrote.
Even a crying emperor is no match for the need to conceal cleavage.
Meanwhile, some Weibo users have decided to lend a helping hand to censors in their strategic mission to erase every single bit of bosom from the show.
Weibo users have also taken it upon themselves to eliminate the cleavage from some other well-endowed historical beauties: the Venus de Milo, Scarlett Johansson, Vladimir Putin, Mao Zedong, etc.
by Alex Linder
[Images via CCTV News, Sina & Weibo]