Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The World Festival of Movie Censorship

There was a story today about the potential problems Rush Hour III may have being released in China because of the depiction of the Triad in the movie piqued my interest in some of the other seemingly arbitrary censorship decisions about Western films that are made around the world. These are not decisions made based on sex or violence, but for more ambiguous reasons.

For instance, in that very same story, the author mentions the fact that Chinese authorities made the producers of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End cut scenes with Chow Yun Fat because his character was bald and scarred and therefore was an insult to the Chinese population. So I guess there has never been a Chinese man who was bald and scarred in the entire history of that country, through all of recorded history. Not a one.


The Chinese censors also banned Scorsese's The Departed from their country because a small part of the plot involves agents of their country trying to acquire American-made microchips, and they had considered not letting Mission: Impossible III be released because the Shanghai police didn't come off too well in that movie.

And when Thailand would not allow the movie Thank You For Smoking to be shown in that country it is speculated the reason was because the title of the movie had the word "Smoking" in it. This is the kind of thing I worry about in North America when it comes to the power the anti-smoking groups wield here.

There is also the story of India's chief censor, Sharmila Tagore, who watches and enjoys quite a few of the movies she won't let the public see, films like Closer because a small vocal minority of the Indian population react with telegenic violence every time they feel that Indian values are being threatened.

The Queen received a rating of 15 in Dubai because the censor figured that people under that age wouldn't want to see it anyway.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention Borat being effectively banned in Russia because it offends "ethnic feelings". Now, the reason I say effectively is because while the body that regulates film has recommended it not be released, and generally speaking, in Putin's Russia, it is generally advisable for those who like life and a career in that order to not rock the boat, like most requests, it is really an order.

Now, if my site hadn't been banned in China already, this probably would have put me over the top. I'd like to thank Melon Farmers for gathering these stories from the past couple of years, because there are incidents that I would have otherwise not known about because they didn't make a big splash here.


sir jorge said...

amazing post, i enjoyed it thoroughly and will feature it this saturday in my "top 5 of the week" posting.

MC said...

Thank you Sir Jorge... I really appreciate that. :)