Nearly 95 per cent of Internet users in China disapprove the removal of scenes showing cleavage on screen in a Chinese television drama, calling the move "unnecessary".
The drama, The Empress of China, also known as the Saga of Wu Zetian, was removed from commercial satellite station Hunan TV for "technical reasons" in late December.
"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'," Xinhua said.
When it returned to the screen in January, scenes showing female characters' cleavage were removed and replaced by close-up shots of the actresses' heads. This somewhat "magnified" version of faces on screen has sparked discontent among viewers.
In a survey conducted by Sina Weibo under the topic "Cleavage scenes cut, yes or no?" more than 95 per cent of viewers voted "No" whereas only 5 per cent voted "Yes".
Most netizens said the show is only a piece of work that showed the culture of China and these alterations are unnecessary. Some are calling for a rating system that restricts viewership to only those deemed appropriate.
What they say
Zhang Guogang, professor of history at Tsinghua University: "As we can see from the frescoes, even though hair was often tied up and necklines were low, it (cleavage in the Tang Dynasty) is not like how it's purposefully squeezed together in the television dramas."
Psychological counselor Xiao Xueping: Most of the reviewers are men and perhaps they envy the attractiveness of women's secondary sexual characteristics, because theirs (referring to the Adam's apple) are relatively less so. The issue could have been solved by changing the times of broadcast and not completely removing the scenes.
Sina Weibo user PbrotherPublisher: "This is not just showing the beauty of the human body, but also the culture of the Tang Dynasty. Now the whole show is left with just heads. I can't see any of the sets or costumes. Very disappointing."
Sina Weibo user Zibuyubufei: "Why don't they ban swimming and diving broadcasts too? They are only wearing swimsuits. Surely that doesn't comply with the standards."
Sina Weibo user asterWan: "I can't even see any of the characters' body movements, let along the costumes or settings. I keep guessing whether she's sitting or standing or writing or reading."