New Straits Times - - Letters -

ILAUD Tourism and Cul­ture Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Mo­hamed Nazri Ab­dul Aziz for stick­ing his neck out to blast the Malaysian Film Cen­sor­ship Board, say­ing enough is enough over the cut in Dis­ney’s movie Beauty and the Beast .

The cen­sor­ship board ex­plained that it was only a mi­nor cut to take out the “gay mo­ment”, which pre­sum­ably is un­suit­able for lo­cal view­ing as ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity is for­bid­den in Malaysia.

But many peo­ple are dis­gusted with the holier-than-thou at­ti­tude of the cen­sor­ship board, as can be seen from the com­ments on so­cial me­dia.

The lo­cal film and mu­sic in­dus­try, as well as the writ­ers and nov­el­ists in Malaysia, are so cir­cum­scribed by taboos.

The re­al­i­ties of the modern world in­clude drug ad­dic­tion, crimes among school­child­ren, ca­sual sex, un­wanted preg­nan­cies, rich busi­ness­men and politi­cians keep­ing mis­tresses, and ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity. All of this hap­pens in many coun­tries.

Screen­writ­ers and film pro­duc­ers in the West, who make box­of­fice hits with in­ter­est­ing en­ter­tain­ment from th­ese so­cial ills, have of­ten been recog­nised na­tion­ally and across the world for high­light­ing the prob­lems that are real in ev­ery so­ci­ety, but which lead­ers have cho­sen to ig­nore be­cause they are too dif­fi­cult to re­solve.

Os­cars and other awards are of­ten given to film pro­duc­ers and actors who make an im­pact on so­ci­ety. Some films are de­lib­er­ately provoca­tive on sex, crimes or po­lit­i­cal scan­dals to drive home the mes­sage, leav­ing the view­ing pub­lic with some­thing to think about when they go back to work the next day.

Our cen­sor­ship should un­der­stand that a movie that arouses our erotic senses or touches on po­lit­i­cal or reli­gious sen­si­tiv­i­ties is not nec­es­sar­ily of­fen­sive if it has a mean­ing­ful sto­ry­line to en­ter­tain the pub­lic and, at the same time, in­form them of the is­sues.

Cut­ting the bits that are deemed of­fen­sive, like a Malay ac­tress kiss­ing on screen or elop­ing with a boy from a dif­fer­ent race, can be dam­ag­ing to the sto­ry­line if th­ese parts are crit­i­cal to the plot.

In the Hol­ly­wood movie The Da Vinci Code, the sto­ry­line is about the Vat­i­can, the nerve cen­tre of the Catholic Church, try­ing to keep se­cret the real story about the birth and life of Je­sus Christ.

De­spite protests from Catholic lead­ers, the film was al­lowed.

It was a box-of­fice suc­cess with grip­ping en­ter­tain­ment of cloak-and-dag­ger he­roes and vil­lains.

As many on so­cial me­dia have said, we are able to think for our­selves. There is no need for the cen­sor­ship board to guide our think­ing. We, too, dis­like un­nec­es­sary sex or sense­less vi­o­lence on the screen, but if it is rel­e­vant to the sto­ry­line, and not crude, there is no rea­son to ap­ply the scis­sors. We also know how to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween fact and fic­tion. When we see Bat­man or Su­per­man fly­ing to save a girl perched on the rooftop of a mul­ti­storey build­ing, we know he was not cre­ated by God.

It is just a film char­ac­ter cre­ated for en­ter­tain­ment, but done in such a way that chil­dren and adults can en­joy them­selves at the cinema, with­out los­ing faith in our reli­gion. Reli­gious lead­ers do not have to get worked up over su­per­nat­u­ral char­ac­ters in movies or on tele­vi­sion.

We have to keep a close eye on the cen­sor­ship board, lest one day it de­cides that all cin­e­mas should be closed down. That will be the end of our artis­tic ta­lent and the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try.


Kuala Lumpur


The Malaysian Film Cen­sor­ship Board was rapped for cut­ting a scene in ‘Beauty and the Beast’.

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