Ending of Fight Club is Restored in China

It had been replaced with text saying authorities foiled plan
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2022 8:38 AM CST
Updated Feb 7, 2022 1:00 PM CST

Update: The original ending of Fight Club has been restored on a streaming service in China after an outcry over what appeared to be extremely heavy-handed censorship. On Tencent Video, a scene in which skyscrapers containing credit card records are blown up is back, CNN reports. It had been replaced with text saying authorities had foiled the plot and "arrested all criminals." The cuts, which made the 1999 film 12 minutes shorter, sparked an outcry on social media and a debate over censorship in China. The BBC notes that while it is routine for foreign films to be heavily censored in the authoritarian country, it's rare for an entire ending to be changed. Our original story from Jan. 25 follows:

Fans of Fight Club are sounding off about Chinese censorship after a version of the classic film made available on Chinese streaming site Tencent Video over the weekend ended very differently than the original. The 1999 film by David Fincher (spoiler alert) ends with Edward Norton's nameless narrator shooting himself, thereby killing his dangerous alter-ego Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt. Assured all is well, the girlfriend of the narrator joins him on the floor of a skyscraper as the pair watch the surrounding buildings—holding records of credit card companies—explode around them. It's meant to symbolize a social revolution, and it's key to "the anarchist, anti-capitalist message," per AFP.

But it’s transformed in Tencent Video's version—12 minutes shorter than the original—which suggests there was no revolution and the authorities prevailed. Here, the final scene ends just as the narrator shoots himself. Then English text appears. "Through clues provided by Tyler, the police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing Tyler's plan for mass destruction," it reads, per the South China Morning Post. It goes on to say that Tyler was sent to a mental asylum for psychological treatment and was released in 2012—though the film has already revealed Tyler to be the narrator's schizophrenic hallucination, per Fortune.

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"Fight Club on Tencent Video tells us that they don't just delete scenes, but add to the plot too," a Weibo user wrote, per AFP. Another user on forum Douban noted Chinese audiences are used to seeing censored films, but to create a whole new ending "was too much," per the Post. Tencent had no comment. However, a film producer tells the Post that China's National Radio and Television Administration often instructs platforms to remove "violent and pornographic scenes" as well as those touching on "the issue of 'values', such as bad guys should not win." Scenes of homosexuality also seem to be a no-no in China. (A joke about Tiananmen Square was recently removed from an episode of The Simpsons shown in Hong Kong.)

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