Too sexy or blasphemous? Eternals banned in several Gulf countries

With its gay couple and its superheroes dating gods, the new Marvel does not pass the bar of censors in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain or Oman.

After the turn of the screw of Russia, the ax of the Gulf States. Viewers from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait will not have the opportunity to experience Marvel’s new blockbuster in theaters, The Eternals. The film was canceled Thursday when it was due to be in theaters in the region on November 11. According to information from the American press, the cancellation of the Eternals would not only be linked to the screen presence of a gay couple, but also to the depiction of mystical motives deemed blasphemous.

The staging of a kiss between two male characters in the film had already earned the feature film distributed by Disney to be banned under the age of 18 in Russia, under the law “Against gay propaganda” enacted in 2013. The same adult rating was given to him in Singapore, where the film was released on Thursday. The reason for the ban on Eternals by various Gulf States is not yet publicly justified. According to Hollywood Reporter, this deprogramming would however have followed Disney’s refusal to censor several sequences of the feature film. Directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Chloé Zhao (Nomadland), The Eternals However, it still seems set for release next week in the United Arab Emirates.

Mystical to blasphemy

Deadline, for his part, wonders about the mystical vein of the film and the presence on the screen of a divine entity, which may have agitated the censors. Not content with portraying a gay relationship between two characters, the Eternal Phastos (Bryon Tyree Henry) and her husband Ben (Haaz Sleiman), the feature film also introduces a deity by the name of Arishem. A Celestial, according to the inventive vocabulary of the Marvel universe, which could represent, along with other supra-terrestrial entities of the film, a sensitive subject for these Islamic countries where this kind of stories – fictitious or not – can be considered blasphemous.

Saudi Arabia and a majority of the Gulf States do not recognize rights for LGBT + people. Homosexuality, the “promotion” of homosexuality and insulting good morals are generally punished by imprisonment and flogging. An environment that had already earned the animated film in the past Forward, of Pixar, to be banned from leaving in Saudi Arabia and in three other countries because of a sentence which evoked a homosexual relationship.

Beyond homosexuality, other blockbusters are regularly censored in Saudi Arabia, which for example blew up a kiss scene from the film Black panther, in 2018. The rigorous Saudi kingdom has come a long way. The American blockbuster was at the time, the first film to have been screened in theaters of the country, when the first Saudi cinema opened in April 2018, 35 years after the ban on cinemas.


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