Mainstream Actress’s Racy Sex Scene Demonstrates China’s Loosening Media Censorship

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Mainstream Chinese Actress Fan Bing Bing Causes Uproar on Weibo for her racy sexy scene in “Lady of the Dynasty”

Fan Bing Bing, China’s premier A-list star, caused an online uproar on Weibo with her latest sex scene in “Lady of the Dynasty,” demonstrating China’s gradual loosening of mainstream media censorship. In this particular scene, Fan’s character was riding a horse when Lai’s character comes up and rips her clothing off, and begins making passionate love to her mid horse-straddle.

Discussions about Fan Bing Bing's racy sex scene on top of a horse, dubbed "马震," has been flooding Chinese cyberspace, especially on Chinese social media site, Weibo"

Discussions about Fan Bing Bing’s racy sex scene on top of a horse, dubbed “马震,” has been flooding Chinese cyberspace, especially on Chinese social media site, Weibo”

Photos of the erotic horseback love-scene, dubbed “Ma zhen” or 马震 by netizens as well as speculations on animal safety and possible jealousy reactions from Fan’s lover began flooding the Weibo cyberspace. According to online media reports, there was worry about what the added weight of 123kg from both leads would do to the horse.

Netizens also began speculating whether or not Fan’s boyfriend Li Chen would be appalled or jealous that his lover was caught on camera in such an unsavory position. Li Chen played along and asked nonchalantly “Who is ‘ma zhen’?”, feigning ignorance. Speaking on behalf of her lover, Fan stated that she and Li share a mutual understanding and respect for the demands of their work. Fan also defended her work as a professional actress stating that there is no such thing as “too much” when it comes to their call of her duty on set.

Fan Bing Bing’s “Ma zhen” sex scene can be seen as a step forward in conservative Chinese Mainstream Media, which has traditionally censored out any and all scenes that are deemed “too racy” for the public.

Just seven years ago, Chinese actress Tang Wei was banned from Chinese media for the intense nature of her sex scene in Ang Lee’s film “Lust, Caustion” (2008). Tang’s television commercials, print ads, and all feature content were ordered by the China State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT) to be pulled immediately, and award shows in China were advised to exclude Tang and the producer’s of “Lust, Caution” from their guest lists.


Chinese Actress Tang Wei was pulled from Chinese mainstream media in 2008 for her steamy sex scene in Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution”

Years later, Fan Bing Bing’s “Ma Zhen” scene in mainstream Chinese media can be seen as a step forward in a culture that has historically regarded sex as taboo and has censored out any content considered to be too salacious for public viewing.

This is not to say, however, that Chinese media censorship as loosened up completely. The Uniqlo scandal last month in July still has the Chinese censorship bureau reeling, as the heads of social media giants, Weibo and Tencent (owner of Wechat), were summoned to “further improve their social responsibility awareness and cooperate with the government’s ongoing investigations.


Young people pose for photos outside of Unqlo after video of a couple having sex in the fitting room went viral on social media

China’s Communist Party oversees a vast censorship system, dubbed the Great Firewall, that aggressively blocks sites or snuffs out content and commentary that is pornographic, violent or deemed politically sensitive. Popular Western social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are not accessible in Mainland China and several news organizations such as the New York times, The Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg have accused Beijing of blocking access to their websites on a number of occasions in the past.

It seems that as Chinese mainstream television media is beginning to loosen up, Chinese social media is being more censored, as digital space is becoming more relevant to the newer generation and more often a space for discussion and controversy.  

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Social Brand Watch (SBW) is a collection of experts in digital, mobile and social media in China. SBW was created to complement Resonance's China Social Branding Report, a bi-weekly report focusing on modern marketing methods of the world's top brands in China.

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