AUGUST 1 — So it’s finally confirmed that Malaysians will not get to see Thor: Love & Thunder on the big screen (at least not in our own country). No official reason or explanation has as yet been given.

However, judging from a similar non-screening of Lightyear two months ago one can easily guess as to what transpired: Very likely there was a scene or dialogue in Love & Thunder involving a gay character (or two) which our national film censors wanted muted or cut.

And very likely the film’s distributors, Disney (who also distributed Lightyear), said no way Jose, either a) screen our film in its entirety without the slightest bit of surgery whatsoever or b) don’t screen it.

Again, I’m aware that no official explanation has been given (yet) but c’mon we don’t need to be Dr Strange to figure it out.

Concern over LGBTQ representation is the reason Love & Thunder was banned in Kuwait (just Google it). Throw in the fact that Disney is again involved and you can put 2 and 2 together.

All of this is absolutely and needlessly annoying. Because our Malaysian censors have done it again and, from the looks of it, will likely do it again.

How the censorship team can imagine that one or two lines from a gay character will “promote an LGBQT lifestyle” is beyond me. By that logic, wouldn’t 90 per cent of Joker promote nihilistic and violent habits?

Wouldn’t James Bond promote sexual promiscuity and, uh, the superiority of MI6? Wouldn’t every instalment of the Fast & Furious series be inspiration for speed demons to fly at 200km/hour on our highways? I could go on. It’s simply baffling what goes on through these gate-keepers’ minds at times.

I think many people understood why, for example, Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ was (at first) banned in 2003 then only later allowed to be screened (but only to non-Muslim audiences).

I can even understand why, way back in 1994, Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List was banned; no matter how liberal we claim we are, it is unlikely Malaysians will accept outright nudity shown on public screens.

Director Taika Waititi and cast members Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson attend a premiere of Marvel Studios’ ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ in London July 5, 2022. — Reuters pic
Director Taika Waititi and cast members Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson attend a premiere of Marvel Studios’ ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ in London July 5, 2022. — Reuters pic

But with Love & Thunder I suspect most people will agree our film censors have overshot their responsibilities. Don’t we all wish they could take a page out of Singapore’s book? Look, the island-state is just as legally restrictive of LGBQT lifestyles as Malaysia; some may argue they are even more prohibitive.

Yet, the Singapore censorship authorities are not so gungho as to deny the cinema sector millions in revenue just because of a few lines of a movie script.

Coupled with the fact that Love & Thunder is easily one of the biggest movies of the year, any film censor crew with half a mind towards the revitalisation of the entertainment sector (not least in a post-pandemic context) should be able to see that not only will this decision deal a huge blow to cinemas all over the country, the desired impact i.e. “curbing the promotion of an LGBQT lifestyle” is superfluous as there is precious little stopping the average teenager or young adult from downloading the movie online.

Even if I absolutely believe that muting a few lines can substantially hinder the emergence of more LGBQT individuals or any activity disagreeable to us (and, honestly, what rational individual would believe that?), surely I would know that millions of my countrymen will be able to easily access these materials somehow.

Again, this is not an argument to let in every controversial or explicit movie into the country; it’s that we should rethink our treatment of box-office blockbusters, especially those which do not aspire to be controversial.

I wish to conclude by appealing to our national censors to kindly and please rethink from scratch your overall way of doing things and making decisions.

You can be very sure that removing a few lines of dialogue from a movie will have zero impact on the state of LGBQT relations in the country; unfortunately, you can also be sure that a movie like Love & Thunder being banned will create one hundred per cent disappointment and a huge loss of revenue for our local entertainment sectors.

For Thor’s sake, please don’t deny us our love and thunder.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.