The Motion Picture Association of America is a dreaded organization in the eyes of many directors, studio executives and film buffs, as it has the controversial role of rating, and in some cases censoring, all the mainstream movies releasing in America. Of course, this isn't a job without criticism, and recently it has been suggested the MPAA is censoring too much sex and nudity, while simultaneously allowing too much violence in PG-13 movies.
However, it could be much, much worse. Although the MPAA mostly concerns itself with sex, violence, profanity and drugs, rarely does it ban entire genres on the basis of some fairly bizarre and strange reasonings. For example, here are 9 movies, television shows and characters which were banned abroad for some pretty laughable reasons:
1. The Simpsons Movie - Myanmar
Not everybody loved the 2007 The Simpsons Movie, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't for the same reasons that irked the Burmese military junta. In that year, the Burmese regime, inexplicably, also banned the colors yellow and red from movies. As you can appreciate, The Simpsons is perhaps one of the yellowest movies ever made, necessitating its banning.
The ban was only temporary, but it still remains as one of the weirdest reasons for censorship.
2. Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom - India
You might think Indiana Jones' second adventure was banned in India because of its slightly backward portrayal of the nation. In fact, the Indian authorities took offence to one particularly famous scene involving a monkey brain - I'm sure you know the one I'm talking about.
In reality, the censors claimed the scene was offensive to monkeys which are revered creatures in the Hindu faith. Despite this, the ban was later overturned.
3. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers - Malaysia
The 1990s kids sensation The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was banned in several countries - such as New Zealand - for its violence, however Malaysian authorities were slightly more concerned with its name.
According to censors, the word 'Morphin' was too close to the name of the drug morphine, leading to suggestions kids could become confused about the origins of the Power Rangers' abilities.
4. Time Travel - China
China hasn't just banned individual movies, its banned an entire genre. According to the Chinese state's Administration for Radio, Film & Television, films which treat history in a frivolous fashion will fall foul of their powerful censors. The authoritarian Chinese state holds history (or at least its version of history) in extremely high regard, which means it is critical to any suggestion it can be changed or re-written. In a sense, the Chinese authorities see the changing of history as also analogous with the changing of political systems - something it is eager to prevent.
According to the Administration for Radio, Film & Television guidelines, any film which “casually make up myths, have monstrous and weird plots, use absurd tactics and even promote feudalism, superstition, fatalism and reincarnation" will risk also being banned.
5. All Claire Danes Movies - Manila, Philippines
The capital city of the Philippines, Manila, certainly isn't a fan of Claire Danes' movies. The Homeland and Romeo and Juliet actress had her entire back catalog banned when she made derogatory comments about the city.
When filming in the city in the 1990s, she later called Manila a "ghastly and weird city" claiming it "smelled of cockroaches, with rats all over, and that there is no sewerage system, and the people do not have anything -- no arms, no legs, no eyes."
The city authorities, and the then president Jospeh Estrada, took offence to this and banned her and her movies from Manila until she released an apology - which she eventually did.
6. All Quiet on the Western Front - Nazi Germany
Considering this iconic 1930s movie was about the horrors and folly of war, it's not surprising it wasn't popular with the militaristic Nazi regime. However, before outright banning it, Hitler decided to go with a more subtle method of control.
At showings of All Quiet on the Western Front, Nazi sympathizers and agents released white mice into the movie theaters, as well as unleashing stink bombs and sneezing powder, causing audiences to flee in a panic. When this didn't work, they simply attacked audience members.
7. Bruce Almighty/Jennifer Aniston's Boobs - Egypt
Considering Bruce Almighty featured a storyline in which Jim Carrey becomes God, it seems fairly obvious it would be met with suspicion in some conservative and religious states. However, Egypt banned Bruce Almightly not because it featured the physical embodiment of God (everyone loves Morgan Freeman after all), but because Jim Carrey did some unsavory things with his divine powers.
Most notably, Egyptian censors took issue to a scene in which Carrey uses his Godly ways to make his girlfriend's breasts bigger. The Egyptian authorities felt this was no way for a God to behave and banned the movie.
8. Winnie The Pooh - Tuszyn, Poland
Officials in the small town of Tuszyn, Poland certainly don't share the view that Winnie The Pooh is a lovable children's bear. Instead, they claimed he is in fact a "hermaphrodite" of “dubious sexuality” and “inappropriate” dress. Due to this, his appearance has been banned from a children's play area.
Ryszard Cichy, a councillor in Tuszyn, claimed:
It is half naked which is wholly inappropriate for children. [Poland’s fictional bear] is dressed from head to toe, unlike Pooh who is only dressed from the waist up.
Another councillor took issue with original Pooh author AA Milne, and added a backstory that certainly wasn't in my Winnie The Pooh books:
This is very disturbing but can you imagine! The author was over 60 and cut [Pooh’s] testicles off with a razor blade because he had a problem with his identity.
9. Nunchucks - United Kingdom
Although most of these above countries are authoritarian regimes, even liberal states have also done there fair share of silly censoring. Back in the 1970s and 80s, Bruce Lee's movies, and his signature nunchucks, had led to a massive spike in interest in martial arts. However, the British equivalent of the MPAA, the BFCC, felt this would give the British public ideas and feared they would seek to get their hands on nunchucks and flying stars. Due to this they banned Bruce Lee's 1973 film Enter The Dragon and censored any other movie featuring nunchucks and martial arts weapons.
This reached a ridiculous zenith when a scene was cut from the 1991 live-action adaptation, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II. The scene in question featured Michelangelo using a string of sausage links like a nunchuck.
The ban was eventually lifted in 1999.