Tag: UAE

Taika Waititi on why Lightyear’s LGBT love story is essential after UAE ban

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Taika Waititi has opened up on the importance of Lightyear’s LGBT love story after the film was banned in the United Arab Emirates.

The Thor: Ragnarok director lends his voice to the new Toy Story spin-off film, focused on Chris Evans’ Buzz Lightyear.

The movie features a sweet romance between Uzo Aduba’s Alisha Hawthorne and another character in a series of scenes that has led to Lightyear becoming the latest movie to be banned in the UAE.

Speaking to Metro.co.uk at the Lightyear red carpet, Taika said of the same-sex love story: ‘I think it’s so awesome.

‘It would be wonderful to one day get to a place where it doesn’t have to be a talking point. The idea that, to go and watch a movie and that’s your big problem? That’s crazy!

‘You never hear people going, “Oh, did you see that movie where that man and that woman kissed?!” If we can just let that go, love is love, if we can normalise it, then we’re moving towards a good space.

‘And when studios make these tiny little steps towards that, just like having a same-sex relationship, it’s just steps towards normalising it and I think you can’t ask for more than that.’

Taika and Chris had a blast at the Lightyear premiere in London (Picture: Getty Images Europe)
He voices the new version of Buzz (Picture: Invision/AP)
Taika opened up about the same-sex love story (Picture: James Veysey/REX/Shutterstock)

While the UAE’s Media Regulatory Office did not give a specific reason for its decision, it stated vaguely on Monday that the Disney and Pixar film was banned for its ‘violation of the country’s media content standards’.

The country criminalises consensual same-sex sexual activity between adults.


Lightyear follows Buzz’s adventures as a marooned Space Ranger (Picture: PIXAR)
Fans are set to see a whole new side to him (Picture: Pixar)
Uzo Aduba’s character Hawthorne is featured in a sweet same-sex love story (Picture: Getty Images for Turner)

Taking to Twitter, the UAE’s Media Regulatory Office posted an image of Buzz Lightyear in the new film, crossed out with a red line.

This action was taken despite the country declaring it would stop censoring cinematic releases and would introduce a 21-plus age rating for films it classifies for older audiences just six months ago.

Keke Palmer also has an important role in the film (Picture: Karwai Tang)
(L-R) Taika Waititi, Tim Peake, Keke Palmer and Chris Evans at the UK premiere of Lightyear (Picture: Karwai Tang/WireImage)

The same-sex scene was reportedly originally cut from the film by Disney.

It was reinstated following the uproar surrounding a statement from Pixar employees claiming that Disney had been censoring ‘overtly gay affection’ and the company’s CEO Bob Chapek’s handling of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.

Last year, Pixar’s Onward, a 2020 American computer-animated urban fantasy adventure film, was also reportedly banned by several Middle Eastern countries because of a reference to lesbian parents.

Lightyear follows Buzz on his adventures as a marooned Space Ranger, in the movie a young Andy could have watched before the events of the Toy Story films.

Lightyear is released in the UK on June 17.

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MORE : Nicola Adams’ girlfriend Ella Baig bares baby bump at Lightyear premiere as couple prepare to welcome first child

MORE : Lightyear review: Toy Story spin-off remains earthbound, but there is a cute cat

Taika Waititi on why Toy Story spin-off Lightyear’s same-sex love story is essential after UAE ban

Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ Banned in Saudi, U.A.E., Malaysia Over Gay Kiss

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Pixar’s “Lightyear” will not be playing in Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E. and Kuwait, among other West Asia territories, due to the inclusion of a same sex kiss in the “Toy Story” spinoff.

The scene, involving a new lesbian space ranger character named Alisha and her partner starting a family together and greeting each other with a kiss on the lips had been originally cut from the film by Disney.

But it was reinstated when Pixar animators spoke out against Disney in an open letter obtained by Variety, saying that Disney had demanded cuts, censoring “overtly gay affection” and in protest against Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s handling of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Variety understands that “Lightyear,” which is set for U.S. release in June 17, was never submitted to censors in Saudi, knowing that it would not pass. But the film had instead been initially approved for release in the U.A.E., where censorship restrictions have been loosening up. However, in a significant setback, the license to play the film in the UAE was suddenly revoked following calls on social media accusing Disney and “Lightyear” of insulting Muslims and Islam.

Nether Italia Film, which distributes Disney films in the region, nor Disney in London responded to requests for comment.

Censorship in Saudi Arabia has recently also kept local audiences from watching Marvel’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” due to the inclusion of a gay character; as well as Marvel’s “Eternals,” after Disney refused to make edits that included the pic’s same-sex kiss; and also “West Side Story,” because it features a transgender character.

In the West Asia region movies concerning or containing sex, homosexuality and religious issues are routinely cut to comply with censorship rules. In this case Disney was either unwilling or unable make edits requested by local censors.

It has also been confirmed that the film will also not release in Malaysia, the Southeast Asian country that is becoming less aligned with western values. The country’s censorship authority, the LPF, takes a strongly negative stance against any film containing themes, dialogue, or scenes involving “homosexual and unnatural sex.”

It is understood that the LPF asked for edits to the film which Disney refused. Sources close to the distributor says that Disney respects local censorship guidelines and has withdrawn its attempt to have the film approved for theatrical release. The film may soon appear on the Disney+ Hotstar streaming service where parental controls are an important feature.

Malaysia has recently had similar issues over gay scenes in “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” and Elton John biopic “Rocket Man.”

  • In recent days, it has also emerged that Malaysia’s LPF banned “May You Stay Forever Young,” a dramatization of events in Hong Kong in 2019-20, when millions of people protested in favor of democracy. The story involves a search for a woman protestor is is threatening to kill herself.

The LPF gave six reasons for banning the film. These included the film’s depiction of violent protests that could give “unhealthy teachings” to Malaysian audiences and the desire not to harm relations with China. It said that Malaysia’s “Foreign Ministry is of the opinion that the screening of this film in Malaysia will [negatively] affect the bilateral relations between Malaysia and China.”


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