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Making a clean breast of it

By Xu Fan | China Daily | Updated: 2015-01-08 07:26

Making a clean breast of it

Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, who plays empress Wu Zetian. Hit drama The Saga of Wu Zetian has drawn further public attention after an attempt to cut "too revealing" shots in the 80-episode Hunan TV serial. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The buzz over the cuts of the actresses' corseted cleavages in the TV drama The Saga of Wu Zetian has also attracted attention abroad. It has experts pondering on the issue, Xu Fan reports.

The much talked about cut of the first Chinese empress' bust has not only not died down, it has also created a buzz abroad.

Numerous international media outlets, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and The Daily Mail, reported on the heated chatter in the Chinese media and blogosphere about how the top-rated domestic TV drama, The Empress of China-also known as The Saga of Wu Zetian-was halted after its first week of release for "technical reasons", then released again five days later.

What happened was when the 80-episode Hunan TV serial returned to the screen on the first day of 2015 after the abrupt suspension, scenes featuring the actresses' low-cut dresses and corseted cleavages have been cut and replaced by close-up shots of just their pretty heads.

A series of "before and after" screen captures of the drama shows that even the Chinese emperor Li Shimin's face has been cut in an "after" scene, when he is leaning his head against the empress' ample breasts.

It has been widely speculated that the nation's highest broadcasting regulator had asked for the cuts because the women's costumes were too revealing.

Chinese netizens created a slew of viral spoofs, such as nicknaming the drama "The Saga of Big Head Wu", and cropping out the busts of some of the well-known stars' movie photos.

Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, found that nearly 95 percent of the viewers disapproved of the cuts, calling them "unnecessary".

The interest shown abroad over the most powerful woman in ancient China, albeit only on her cleavage, made some experts stand back and examine the issue seriously.

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