Malaysia blames Beauty and the Beast director for controversy

Beauty and the Beast not screened in Malaysia

The cast and crew of Beauty and the Beast have reason to be particularly delighted this morning. Their film enjoyed a spectacular premiere weekend, twirling away with a towering $350 million at the global box office and becoming the top March opener of all time. But one country that didn’t contribute to the Disney picture’s gross was Malaysia.

Last week, it was revealed that the film would not screen in Malaysia due to a three-second “gay moment” involving Josh Gad‘s character, LeFou. The country’s censorship board, LPF, demanded the “gay moment” be cut. However, Disney stood firm and refused.

As the Hollywood Reporter writes, “The studio postponed the movie’s release by one week, in case the Malaysians decided to reconsider their demand for cuts.”

Since then, LPF chairman Abdul Halim has spoken out about the controversy. He suggested that since the film’s director, Bill Condon, asserted that LeFou is in fact gay, LPF was forced to act.

In an interview with the New Sunday Times, which was published Sunday (March 19), Halim said, “Maybe if Condon had not mentioned the ‘gay element,’ people wouldn’t be so curious and we could let it go with a potentially minor cut. And this whole thing may not have been an issue. We at LPF want to preserve films as much as how they are intended by the director, but the moment the ‘gay element’ is thrown into the mix, we have to protect ourselves.”

He added, “Malaysia does not recognize the LGBT ideology. So we have to be extra cautious in our work. We have our responsibilities to the country, the people and our constitution. If we let these scenes pass, people will wonder if Malaysia recognizes LGBT.”

The Hollywood Reporter clarifies Malaysia’s view on homosexuality by outlining the “strict laws” it has “against homosexuality.”

It writes, “Sex between men is illegal in the country and gay characters are allowed to be depicted on screen only if they show repentance or are portrayed in a negative light.”

Halim went on to identify which three portions of Beauty and the Beast his board wishes to drop. The first is “during the performance of a song where the male character (LeFou) hugs the other (Gaston) from behind,” the second concerns the “suggestive song lyrics with sexual innuendos,” and the third is part of a scene near the film’s end.

The movie’s fate rests in the hands of Malaysia’s Film Appeals Committee, which can opt to reverse the censorship board’s decision. Its members convene tomorrow (March 21) for a screening.

What are your thoughts on Halim’s statements? Should Malaysia put aside its views on homosexuality in favor of screening Beauty and the Beast? ~Matthew Pariselli

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Comments & Discussion

  1. Mary • March 20, 2017 @ 3:05 PM

    Since Malaysia’s population of 62% Islamists, you can probably bet they won’t be changing their minds unless they get their way.

  2. Jacob • March 20, 2017 @ 7:03 PM

    BOO!

    Freedom of speech and freedom from government censorship is the number one qualifier of a free country.

    BOO!

  3. JD • March 20, 2017 @ 8:10 PM

    It’s a kids film are u kidding me that you find something anything gay in iT like who cares it’s a great film meant for enjoyment not disecting a beautifully made film. Malaysia needs to come into the 20th century please!!

  4. CDubya • March 21, 2017 @ 12:17 PM

    Wow. Malaysia has over 31 million people… Canada, has just a bit more then that, around 36 million people. Canada has MANY gay people, and some of the worlds largest Gay Pride Parades where that community can celebrate and not feel judged. It’s incredible that Malaysia must have ZERO gay people at 31 million population. They need to ensure major population controls are in place because I think at 35 million one might be born, then it becomes an epidemic, like in Canada. Sheesh. Good on Disney. They will make enough money without the film being shown there.

  5. Penguin • March 21, 2017 @ 1:23 PM

    I’ve seen the show. You’d have to have a pretty large stick up your …. to worry about those scenes showing something gay. Malaysia may have a ban on, but what goes on behind closed doors is their own business. Are they going to start knocking in doors to check on who is sleeping with whom? Get on with life people.

  6. Georgia • March 21, 2017 @ 1:57 PM

    Yes, it’s truly ludicrous what they’re doing and how they’re responding to this. People need to relax and accept that things are different in 2017 than they were in the ’40s. Get over yourself, Malaysia!

  7. Jude • March 23, 2017 @ 3:10 PM

    It’s a different culture people –
    They may seem behind to us in a first world democratic country, but they have their beliefs and rules and we cannot force an entire country to change their views. No I don’t agree with them but you have to look at it through different eyes.

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