Kuwait bans ‘Beauty and the Beast’
Kuwait bans : The Kuwait National Cinema Company said on Tuesday it has decided to ban Disney’s hit movie ‘Beauty and the Beast’, citing its “responsibilities” despite it already having been screened.
The film was released in the conservative Muslim Gulf state on Thursday, but the privately-owned company withdrew the film four days later to review its content.
‘Beauty and the Beast’ has come under fire in some Muslim countries for a “gay moment”, but Disney said on Tuesday it will be released in Muslim-majority Malaysia with no cuts.
Starring ‘Harry Potter’ star Emma Watson, the movie has raised hackles worldwide among religious groups angered by its depiction of Le Fou, the sycophantic sidekick to antagonist Gaston, as a gay man – making him Disney’s first-ever openly gay character.
“Dear customers: We would like to inform you that the management of Kuwait National Cinema Company has decided to bar the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ film,” the company said in a statement on its official Twitter account on Tuesday.
The decision “is in line with the company’s responsibilities and principles towards young customers”, it said.
A day earlier, the company tweeted that it had decided to suspend the screening of the film to review its content, apparently after objections were raised on social media.
Despite the “gay moment” controversy, the movie shattered box office records in its opening weekend, taking a monster $175.7 million in North America and $357 million in total, according to industry data released on Monday.
What does Kuwait have in common with Alabama?
“Beauty and the Beast” has been banned from theaters there.
The international blockbuster, Disney’s live-action remake of the animation classic, is under fire for a scene widely seen as alluding to homosexuality. In Kuwait, censors have pulled the movie from all theaters, and in a rural corner of Alabama, a drive-in theater has banned the film.
The movie, which has earned more than $350 million worldwide, stars Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast. It opened in Kuwait last Thursday with a PG-13 rating, but by this week, the nation’s government-owned cinema company, which runs 11 out of the 13 theaters in the Persian Gulf country, announced that all screenings had been canceled and offered a full refund to anyone who had purchased a ticket.
One board member of the National Cinema Co. told the Associated Press, “We were requested to stop the screening and further censor the movie for things that were deemed offensive by the Ministry of Information’s censorship department.”
At issue, apparently, is a scene in which a supporting character, LeFou, is depicted as having a romantic fascination for Gaston and is shown dancing with another man in a ballroom scene said to be three seconds long. The movie’s director, Bill Condon, told a British publication that LeFou, played by Josh Gad, has “a nice, exclusively gay moment.”
The treatment of gays and lesbians in the Middle East is mixed. In Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, homosexuality is criminalized and can lead to fines, lashings and imprisonment. In Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Yemen, it can also lead to the death penalty. But in Jordan, Bahrain and Iraq, homosexuality is not illegal.
Even beauty and the beast has been banned from Kuwait cinemas. This is ridiculous
Kuwait’s decision followed an effort by censors in Malaysia to edit out controversial scenes from the movie. But after Disney decided to stop the film’s release there, rather than agree to cuts, Malaysian authorities decided to allow the film to be released next week in its entirety. The Malaysian censorship board’s earlier push to censor the film had been widely condemned both at home and abroad, including by the country’s tourism minister.
According to the Malay Mail, the minister said gay people exist in the world, even if the film did not have a “gay character,” adding that “I don’t think it is going to influence anyone.”
The movie has also stirred controversy in Russia. Vitaly Milonov, a lawmaker, tried to get the film banned. But it was allowed to be screened uncensored, accompanied by a warning that it was not suitable for children younger than 16.