Monday, March 9, 2009

It's a vagina, so what?

It is a sad day anywhere in the world when anything gets censored, but it is even a sadder moment for me when things get censored in Lebanon. You know, given the whole thing with me being Lebanese and all.

Lebanon, marketed as a bastion of freedom in the middle east, has an unfortunate history with censoring various works of art, whether they be movies, books, plays, or pretty much anything that offends some people's feelings.

We have had a few issues with censored stuff in the recent past. Things that come to mind immediately are the banning of the Da Vinci Code book since it offended the catholic church. Or the recent attempt to ban Waltz with Bashir, which as far as my knowledge extends, they recanted on that decision.

The most recent censoring fiasco revolves around the movie HELP by a new-comer to the directing scene, Marc Abi Rached. The movie tackles a bunch of issues surrounding, among other people, the life of a prostitute with a gay roommate. The Lebanese government initially gave the OK for the movie on the conditions that it be restricted to 18 and older individuals and that a scene showing female genitalia be blurred. The director happily obliged. Yet after the initial screening of the movie, the government recanted the permit and banned the movie.
Now I understand that the movie deals with certain taboo issues in the middle east and that it might have some nudity scenes that are not so Kosher for some Lebanese, but seriously??

And speculations are going crazy right now as to why the movie was banned. My favorite is that the government did not want to embarrass MP Andraos, whose daughter appears fully naked in the movie, since he might be running for re-election and that something like this might hinder his chances of winning. Because you know Lebanese will vote for their representatives in parliament according to the candidate's daughter's vagina! For one thing, I would have thought that this would get him more votes, I know I'd vote for him after this!

But on a more serious note, whatever the reasons are for banning the movie, it's a shame for Lebanon and an affront to our freedom of expression. No movie should be banned under any circumstance. If you as a government think that it might be harmful to minors or what have you then rate it and prohibit minors from watching it.

You can find a video from LBC's news hour in Arabic about the ban at the following link:

And an English story with a video that has the trailer at the following link:

No matter what the reasons are, SHAME, SHAME, SHAME.



  1. Are you sure about waltz with bashir being unbanned?

  2. actually after doing more research, it turns out that they did not un-ban it. i think what i was confused with was tarek mitri's (government minister) statement that it should be un-banned, and that he was going to try and do that. but it turns out that it is still banned.