The old saying goes that “laughter is the best medicine.” Unfortunately, the art of comedy is not as universally appreciated as youâ€™d think. What plays well in one country might cause offence in another.
With the controversy surrounding Seth Rogenâ€™s â€śThe Interviewâ€ť still fresh in the pop culture ether, because it almost started World War Three, what better time to look back at recent era comedies that were banned in various parts of the globe?
Laughter is one of those key traits that makes us human, but deciding what is and isnâ€™t funny can cause huge amounts of tension and controversy.
In 2007 Matt Groeningâ€™s cartoon family featured in a big screen adventure.
James Franco as Dave Skylark, an idiotic t.v. presenter sent by the CIA to kill Kim Jong-un.
â€śThe Interviewâ€ť caused an international crisis. Even President Obama got involved. The reason? Seth Rogenâ€™s comedy turned North Koreaâ€™s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, into a laughing stock. The secretive Asian country responded by threatening to press SEND on their nuclear arsenal. Overreacting much? It goes without saying that â€śThe Interviewâ€ť will not be screening in the theatres of Pyongyang any time ever.
Kevin Smithâ€™s rom-com was deemed too controversial for Utah audiences.
Zac and Miri Make a Porno
Seth Rogen again! In 2008, the Canadian funnyman starred in Kevin Smithâ€™s â€śZack and Miri Make a Porno.â€ť A Utah cinema chain, Megaplex Theatres, refused to screen the rom-com and gave the reason that it was “too raunchy for conservative, religious audiences.” The poster was also banned by the US ratings board, the MPAA.
Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat rocking his infamous mankini.
Jagshemash! Sacha Baron Cohenâ€™s idiotic television reporter, Borat, caused major hurt feelings in Kazakhstan. To make things worse, Cohen launched the character into a feature-length movie, in 2006, the brilliantly titled â€śBorat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.â€ť Russia, as an act of solidarity with the Kazakh dictatorship running the country, also declined to release it.
John Turturro played a Palestinian terrorist in Adam Sandlerâ€™s hit comedy.
You Donâ€™t Mess With the Zohan
â€śYou Donâ€™t Mess with the Zohanâ€ť dealt with a Mossad agent (played by Adam Sandler) posing as a hairdresser in the Big Apple. A comedy about a Mossad agent and scenes of Jews and Palestinians uniting together was deemed politically sensitive. A big hit in Israel, the movie was banned in Egypt, Iran, Lebanon and pretty much every other Arab country.
Burma banned â€śThe Simpsons Movieâ€ť because of the yellow-skinned characters.
The Simpsons Movie
What the hell did The Simpsons do to offend anybody? I mean, come on, itâ€™s The Simpsons! Burmese censors denied the long-awaited but very disappointing big screen outing for the worldâ€™s most famous cartoon family, because it has forbidden the colours yellow and red. For real. Iâ€™m not making this up.
“Sex and the City 2” filmed on location in Abu Dhabi, but would never be shown in the United Arab Emirates.
Sex and the City 2
Unfortunately, the director and cast of this soul-destroying movie were not taken to The Hague and tried for crimes against cinema and humanity. â€śSex in the City 2â€ť saw the ditzy gal pals head to Abu Dhabi for a spot of shopping and romance. The United Arab Emiratesâ€™ National Media Council denied it a release because they claimed SATC2 didnâ€™t fit in with their “cultural values.” That old chestnut!
Neill Blomkampâ€™s sci-fi comedy-drama used irony and intolerance as major themes.
Is this one a case of over-sensitivity or plain racism? Nigeria was greatly upset by Neill Blomkampâ€™s treatment of its nationals in the sci-fi comedy, â€śDistrict 9.â€ť Nigerians were depicted as gangsters and cannibals. Maybe they had a right to be upset? The countryâ€™s politicians demanded an apology and, yep, you guessed itâ€¦ banned â€śDistrict 9.â€ť
Seth McFarlane plays a cowardly farmer hiding from a notorious outlaw. The film is less Bob Hope, more Bob Hopeless.
A Million Ways to Die in the West
Iâ€™m of the opinion that Seth McFarlaneâ€™s 2014 western, â€śA Million Ways to Die in the West,â€ť redefined the concept of comedy to mean “not funny at all.” Like me, the country of Malaysia find Mr. McFarlaneâ€™s work iffy. They also saw fit to ban his TV show, â€śFamily Guyâ€ť and his previous movie, â€śTed.â€ť I say the people of Malaysia got lucky.
Jake Kasdanâ€™s latest movie was more interested in selling Apple products than telling a story.
â€śSex Tapeâ€ť was a feature-length advert for Apple products pretending to be a movie. The UKâ€™s BBC network banned presenters from uttering the filmâ€™s title during interviews with the cast because they thought it was “too rude” to say on morning radio. Elsewhere, Malaysia (them again) didnâ€™t like the premise, the title, nor the movie.
A Bollywood picture banned by Pakistan for its comedic use of Osama Bin Laden.
Without You, Bin Laden
A Bollywood production youâ€™ve probably never heard of was banned by Pakistan authorities in 2010. â€śWithout You, Bin Ladenâ€ť is the story of a man bearing more than a passing resemblance to a chap who was, at that time, the worldâ€™s most wanted terrorist. The irony is delicious: Bin Laden was hiding out in the country in which the film was banned. Hilarious, right?
Images Â© respective film studios.