Eternals banned in Arab countries: censorship of LGBTQ+ relationships

The latest Marvel film features a gay kiss that has lead to the censorship of the film, so we ask just how much can a kiss cause a stir?

Olivia Finlayson
16th November 2021
Image Credit: IMDB
What is so controversial about a kiss? Why is something that unites us also so dividing? Because of the latest censorship of the homosexual kiss within Eternals, the question arises of how the social connotations of a kiss and sexuality impact censorship, and our ability to use the film form for expression. 

Eternals has been reportedly banned in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait due to a kiss by the first-ever openly gay marvel superhero Phastos and his partner. This is due to the fact homosexuality is still deemed a crime in certain parts of the Middle East, and therefore certain cinema chains chose to not comply with Disney’s original expression within Eternals. Even in some international countries, the mild heterosexual sexual scene would also be removed; however, Disney has not given distribution certificates to countries requesting extreme censorship of the film.

Angelina Jolie as Thena. Image Credit: IMDB

Angelina Jolie, who plays Thena, responded to saying she was sad for the audiences deprived of seeing the film in its original glory and was "proud of Marvel for refusing to cut those scenes out".

However, this is not the first time we have seen censorship like this within the medium of film. Alongside the Eternals’ censorship surrounding gay kisses, in 2019, Delta airlines were called out by Olivia Wilde for showing an edited version of her film Booksmart that had removed LGBTQ+ scenes. This was also the case, on the same airline, for scenes within the Elton John biopic Rocketman. Along the same theme, the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody was also censored in China, only being released once scenes of Freddie Mercury kissing other men were removed. So as we can see, there is definitely a theme emerging in the battle between censorship and the use of film for expression. 

the Eternal's censorship, hinders the progression of new emerging film industries and how much we can diversify the content within upcoming film

It is clear that film censorship is an ongoing problem that is not disappearing anytime soon. Just less than a month ago, Hong Kong imposed new censorship laws, challenging the freedom of expression of civilians. Consequently, this, like the Eternal's censorship, hinders the progression of new emerging film industries and how much we can diversify the content within upcoming films, and bring acceptance to communities who are underrepresented.  

Video Credit: Marvel Entertainment
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