HAPPILY EVER AFTER?
Disney’s threat to pull out from screening tantamount to daring our authorities
AT the end of the day, we have a compromise. Walt Disney did not get all it wanted, and our authorities managed to get their point across. Beauty and the Beast will be shown without any cuts, but will be restricted to those aged 13 and above.
So, who blinked? I would say both sides had to make some concessions, and both got their points across. Walt Disney is willing to sacrifice a big portion of its target audience, those under 13 if the movie theatres and parents enforce their ratings, and the censorship board agrees to let it pass without any cuts.
Some had, before this, described the decision by Walt Disney to pull the Beauty and the Beast movie here rather than cut a scene out as yet another embarrassment to the country.
What will people think of us? We will be the laughing stock of the world. No, we will not, the United States voted Donald Trump as president. Now that, and his daily tweets, provides real laugh. Everything else pales in comparison.
Seriously, folks, what we have, in essence, is a big studio flexing its muscle at a relatively small market, with gender politics thrown into the mix, via, to quote the director, “... a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie”.
To be clear the movie was never banned. It’s just that Disney did not want the movie to be cut, as required by the censorship board, perhaps, in the name of artistic integrity.
Now, this is where the whole thing had bothered me before yesterday’s development. Movies get censored or rated all over the world. People have their own sensitivities whether they are religious, sexual, violence, or ideological. Some movies could be deemed offensive to a group of people, while they are perfectly all right to others.
Even in the US, while there is generally no censorship laws, movies are rated based on these issues and movie houses are obliged to follow. Film distributors would normally be aware of certain issues that are sensitive in some countries, but perhaps not to others. Often a compromise, a snip here or a snip there, of sorts, are reached between them and the respective authorities for the movies to be shown.
Normally, a scene or two that is crucial to the whole movie could be argued for inclusion, while gratuitous scenes of violence or sex could be removed without the movie being largely affected.
For all my life, Beauty and the Beast is a fairy tale, and would largely interest little girls. By the age of nine or 10, they would all outlive the fantasy world and move on to teen idols, perhaps.
To be fair, I have not seen the movie, thus I am not sure if the removal of the scene in question would affect it. Nevertheless, from what I know of it, after viewing the animated version for perhaps the thousandth time when my daughter was small, I don’t think it will.
Even in the United States, while there is generally no censorship laws, movies are rated based on these issues and movie houses are obliged to follow.
If it is not essential to the plot, why then insist that the scene in question cannot be cut? One could not be faulted to ask whether there is an agenda being promoted here. Is there an attempt to get us to accept all manners of how people live their lives?
By all means, do so, but surely not in a movie most of us associate to be a little girl’s fantasy? I know there are people who don’t mind, and I know those who do, too, having their kids as target for sexual politics messaging. The bigger question for me is the muscle flexing, for lack of a better phrase, by Disney. Whether one agrees with the decision or not, the earlier decision to pull out from the screening was tantamount to challenging our authorities, by a foreign party, no less.
It will probably get a few millions of ringgit here and there from the Malaysian box office receipt, which is a small change when compared with the other markets.
For instance, the biggest market outside of the US, is China, contributing to more than US$2 billion (RM8.9 billion) in sales. Hollywood has been bending over backwards to meet the requirement of the Chinese authorities. Movies have been re-edited, titles changed, scenes cut, etc., in order to be shown there. The stories of China’s censorship is rather legendary, and they do not bode well for artistic integrity. They include removing a scene showing clothes hanging on a line with the Shanghai skyline in the background, as the authorities felt that it did not show the city in a good light. It also removed a scene that had someone saying a virus originating from China was the cause of the problem for the zombie movie World War Z.
Should money or artistic integrity reign? I tend to think it is the former that governs the Hollywood studios, but if one could exercise some of the latter, especially at a small harmless market, then it would be great, too. In the end though, the movie will be shown and we will get to see what the big deal is all about. One is also tempted to say, “... and they live happily, ever after.”
‘Beauty and the Beast’ will be shown without any cuts, but will be restricted to those aged 13 and above.