Malaysian Censor Wanted to Cut Four Minutes Out of ‘Beauty and the Beast’

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Courtesy of Disney

Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid, head of Malaysia’s Film Censorship Board, says he sought to cut more than four minutes of material from “Beauty And The Beast” – far more than the three-second “gay moment” that has flustered regulators in some other countries.

Disney refused, and pulled the film from release last Thursday in Malaysia.

In a Q&A published Sunday in the New Straits Times and widely quoted in other Malaysian media, Abdul Hamid said that the Censorship Board (known as the LPF) wanted to cut 4 minutes and 38 seconds from three different points in the film.

The first was during the performance of a song in which the character Le Fou hugs his hero, the villain Gaston, from behind. The second was of “suggestive song lyrics with sexual innuendos.” And the third was a scene at the end of the movie that Abdul Hamid declined to identify but that is most likely the bit in which Le Fou has what director Bill Condon calls a “gay moment.”

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“The length of the [proposed cut to the] song was about three seconds, but we could not recommend a three-second cut as it would make the song choppy and people would be angry. The other cuts are on the actions,” said Abdul Hamid.

He also said that publicity surrounding the film and Condon’s statements had made the problem more acute for the censors. Abdul Hamid said the LPF’s curiosity had been raised by the homosexual elements introduced into the live-action film that were not present in the 1991 animated original. And he said that viewers had emailed the censors prior to the movie’s certification.

“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 had to protect ourselves,” Abdul Hamid said in the published interview.

Muslim-majority Malaysia has often been proud of its racial diversity and moderate version of Islam, but in the current political climate, conservative forces are increasingly dominant and intolerant. Under fire, Prime Minister Mohammad Najib Razak has recently embraced the hard-line Islamic factions that he previously shunned in order to bolster his chances of winning the next general election. Gay sex is illegal in Malaysia under both the criminal code and sharia, or Islamic law. Najib Razak’s leading political opponent, Anwar Ibrahim, has twice been jailed on sodomy charges.

Quoted by official press agency Bernama this weekend, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said: “Any films on LGBT [themes] the government will not allow, because the elements portrayed in the movie could influence us.”

“Malaysia does not recognize the LGBT ideology, so we have to be extra cautious in our work. If we let these scenes pass, people will wonder if Malaysia recognizes LGBT,” Abdul Hamid said in the New Straits Times Q&A.

Malaysia’s film bodies have made clear their position on LGBT matters in the past. In 2010, the Malaysian Producers Assn. said that gay characters would only be tolerated on film if they either repent or die.

Despite the LPF’s proposed cuts to “Beauty and the Beast,” Abdul Hamid said he personally found the film “very funny and entertaining.” He also explained that he had hoped to take his granddaughter to see the (edited) film on commercial release.

The LPF’s decision is likely to be heard on appeal Tuesday. The film will be screened for the Film Appeals Committee, which is a separate body but which also comes under the wing of the Home Ministry. The committee is made up of about 20 people, including education, information and police officials. Its decision is final and cannot be appealed.

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  1. Pete C says:

    I lived and taught in Malaysia–in one of the most conservative rural areas–for two years in the 1960’s. The brand of Islam practiced at the time was indeed moderate. For example, my female students certainly dressed modestly in their school uniforms, but they did not cover their hair. When I returned for a visit in 1990, things had changed drastically. All the girls and women wore hijabs, and some men were dressed like Arab sheiks. I haven’t been back since, but it sounds as if things are even worse now. Whether the change is due to the influence of Saudi Wahhabi missionaries spreading their rigid, wretched fundamentalism or what, I don’t know. But it’s sad to see a vibrant, successful, formerly tolerant country going in this direction.

    • Sal U. Lloyd says:

      You SHOULD know more than I as I have never visited a Muslim country, let alone visited one. But as you should know, with any of the major religions, they are changing. They have their periods of reform and their periods of obscurantism. In Christianity, for example, Liberation Theology is light years removed from say, today’s brand of Protestant fundamentalism–particularly the Dominion theology type.

  2. Sal U. Lloyd says:

    In Condon’s GODS AND MONSTERS, homosexuality had to do with the characters. Here, it’s just gratuitous.

  3. krumhorn says:

    It’s so interesting to watch American lefties be so smug in the security that they have a monopoly on virtue. If Muslims believe that homosexuality is a nasty perversion, who is to say that they’re wrong? And yet, these same self-righteous lefties will howl like cayotes if Trump is thought to be temporarily barring the religion of peace at the immigration kiosk at the international terminal.

    Go hug yourselves from behind and leave the Malaysians to raise their own kids without your indoctrination.

    – Krumhorn

  4. Carlito's Way says:

    Screw Malaysia’s bs gov’t oppressors, but I agree that Bill Condon only made it worse.

  5. Michael Anthony says:

    I’d love to see Disney and other studios band together and decline to release any films to Malaysia and other countries who want to impose their beliefs on films they didn’t make. It’ll never happen as the studios may talk human rights, they want their dollars more.

    These countries are also hypocritical. Violent, murderous films pass by their boards easily. But any mention of an oppressed group, and it’s a fight against their dictator run country.

  6. Wow I guess they’re still living in the dark ages, I feel bad for the people living there honestly (and any other countries where government controls what the citizens should or shouldn’t watch).

  7. muslims hate gays and lesbians……in other news, the sky is blue

  8. Rex says:

    Screw Malaysia. Disney should NEVER release the movie there. Let their own industry keep the masses in the dark ages!

  9. Jacques Strappe says:

    Be our guest, be our guest, Malaysia to go f_ck yourself!

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