Censorship in general has a lot to do with insecurity. In fact, it has everything to do with insecurity. It's baffling to me personally that governments who choose to fear art don't realize that they're doing anything more than stoking suspicions and resentment among their people. But it's also true that governments who censor movies and books don't represent their people—because they're usually dictatorships.
The following countries took the blacklisting (cough, wussy) route. And that's OK. It's their country. In addition to revealing their fears for Western cinema, they also caused immeasurable curiosity which in turn caused more success for these films. So in a way, censorship helped. Political forces have been censoring dangerous art since the dawn of art itself, and these are the modern examples.
12 China: Brokeback Mountain
11 Iran: 300
10 Trinidad & Tobago, Malaysia, and Thailand: Zack and Miri Make a P*rno
9 United Kingdom: The Human Centipede (Full Sequence)
In 2011, officials in the UK government spewed out their tea and crumpets after the release of The Human Centipede (Full Sequence). As did everyone. But that was the point—to utterly disturb. The British Board of Film Classification said it violated the Obscene Publications Act, posing “a real, as opposed to fanciful, risk that harm is likely to be caused by potential viewers.”
8 Kazakhstan: Borat
7 Samoa: Milk
Sean Penn won Best Actor for his role as Harvey Milk in the film Milk. It is based on the life of the first openly gay elected official in America. But Samoa's censorship board didn't take a liking to its premise, suggesting that it is contradictory to the values of Samoa and its Christian religion. Principal censor Lei'ataua Niuptu said that the movie “is trying to promote the human rights of gays. Some of the scenes are very inappropriate in regard to some of the sex in the film itself.”
6 North Korea: 2012
5 United Arab Emirates: Sex and the City 2
4 Indonesia, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Malaysia: Schindler's List
Seven-time Oscar-winner Schindler's List has achieved worldly success as the preeminent holocaust film. But Islamic nations across the world weren't as thrilled by it. Malaysia, for example, said that the movie showed Jews as “stout-hearted” and “intelligent,” while depicting Germans as “brutal.” Other predominantly Muslim nations seconded that notion. Director Steven Spielberg was flabbergasted, and In 1994 he told the New York Times, “It's just disgraceful. It shocks me because I thought the Islamic countries would feel this film could be an instrument of their own issues in what was happening in Bosnia.” Malaysian authorities said nope, “The story of the film reflects the privilege of virtues of a certain race only.”
3 Myanmar: Rambo IV
2 United Kingdom: A Clockwork Orange
1 Burma: The Simpson's Movie
You ready for this? The Burmese government banned The Simpson's Movie because it features the colors yellow and red. At face value it seems like a completely arbitrary rule, but once you get into the politics of the matter things begin to make a little more sense … sorta. In neighboring Thailand, which may or may not hold clout in Burma, the opposing political forces are known as the Yellow Shirts and the Red Shirts. Homages to anything remotely related to such parties are strictly verboten.
Sources: NYTimes.com, TheGuardian.com, DailyMail.co.uk, CinemaBlend.com, Time.com, pbs.org
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