Moralpanic aside, it is unusual for media to be banned outright anywhere (except, you know, in totalitarian countries notorious for banning objectionable content, like many Middle Eastern countries, and, of course, China). Some governments are more likely than others to prohibit the sale of games and other media whose subject matter is deemed too harmful for the masses. In many nations, this amounts to a general ban or censorship of most retailers and broadcasters, though buying/possessing/selling imports from outside one's borders is perfectly legal (unless, of course, it's something really insidious, like child porn).
A general rule of thumb is that, if the fighting/political action takes place in that country, or against its government (even when it's clearly not the actual one or even a thinly veiled substitute), they're not going to like it.
The trope title is a modern twist on the older phrase "Banned in Boston." Back in the days when Boston, Massachusetts was a bastion of Puritan and Catholic morality, a local "benevolent" group known as the Watch and Ward Society held immense sway over what plays and films could be presented and what books could be sold or carried by libraries. Boston has been replaced by China due to both the People's Republic's tendency to censor anything they find remotely "harmful for the Chinese youth" (i.e. anything that questions the authority of the government or might inspire new, possibly rebellious ways of thinking), and the fact that, in later decades, the stereotype of Boston and New England in general has flipped to one of staunch social liberalism (when people talk about "Massachusetts values" nowadays, they mean same-sex marriage and feminism).
Compare New Media Are Evil, No Swastikas, Media Watchdog, and Moral Guardians. Contrast with Bowdlerization, where a form of media is allowed in a country, but has to be edited for content.
The 1985 French film Hail Mary, which is a modern retelling of the Virgin Birth, was banned for mixing sexual content with religious content (which a lot of Catholics — particularly Hispanic ones — consider blasphemous).
The rape simulator RapeLay is the only video game banned in Argentina for condoning/glamorizing sexual violence.
The season 19 Simpsons episode "E. Pluribus Wiggum"note The one where everyone writes in Ralph Wiggum as the 2008 candidate for U.S. President was banned in this (and other Latino countries) due to Lenny and Carl's conversation about Argentina's Juan Peron being the best leader because "When he 'disappeared' you, you stayed 'disappeared'!" and equating Juan's wife, Evita, with singer Madonna (who did play her in a movie version of the musical Evita), which a lot of Hispanic groups didn't find funny.
The Office of Film and Literature Classification is essentially Australia's version of the MPAA, but unlike its American counterpart, it is a governmental organization, and films MUST by law be classified by it before they can be sold or exhibited in any form in the country (however, it is legal to possess most material refused classification by the OFLC). The OFLC has banned a handful of explicit movies, among them Baise Moi, In a Glass Cage, Ken Park, La Blue Girl, Nekromantik, Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom (which was eventually passed as of 2010), Vase de Noces, the uncut version of Caligula, and John Waters' Pink Flamingos.
They attempted to ban Mysterious Skin in a string of other bans for anything that had to do with homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transsexuality. It failed as Australian lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender groups protested.
The first series of Nine Network's Underbelly was banned by judicial order within the state of Victoria and Melbourne and from the Internet due to an ongoing trial of one of the show's real-life subjects and concern of jury tampering, and even after their conviction the court forced the network to heavily edit the episodes.
Originally there was no R18+ rating for video games, so anything deemed to go over the MA 15+ rating would mean that the game would get no classification and be banned (or sometimes censored). As of 2013, the R18+ rating has been approved for video games, with the Mortal Kombat reboot and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge as the very first video games to receive that rating.
What started as a rumor turned out to be entirely true: it was originally failed to attain a 15+ rating and was thus refused to be given a rating, so Fallout 3 was banned in Australia before it even came out. It has since been rated and released with a 15+ rating. Apparently, it was the depiction of a static image of morphine as a type of buff-giving item that upset the OFLC. This edit was done to all versions worldwide, though technically Australia still got the uncensored version. Kotaku Australia to elaborate.
Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude was unrated due to its strongly suggestive content. The Leisure Suit Larry games are about a Casanova Wannabe trying to get laid by college coeds.
Left 4 Dead 2 was added to the list of games refused classification for the amount of violence caused by melee weapons (zombies get dismembered or have their organs exposed after a single hit). It was eventually released with heavy cuts made.
Violence in general wasn't the only reason. It was the context behind it, in which the people who attack the players are actually infected humans and not dead people rising from the grave to eat the brains and flesh of the living. Despite common belief Australia would have allowed this, it's just that Valve used the German cut which already had them censored out (though since patched in) despite Australia would have allowed more than what was censored (e.g. disappearing bodies)
Manhunt and Postal are banned too, due to excessive violence and abhorrent themes and behavior.
Aliens vs. Predator (2010) was originally banned but through an appeal it was rerated MA 15+ uncut. Which ironically made it the most leniant rating given to the game of any country.
As mentioned above, the Mortal Kombat reboot (nicknamed Mortal Kombat 9 by fans) was banned in Australia when there was no rating higher than MA 15, and customs were ordered to seize copies. But once the "Komplete Edition" was released, the R18 rating was introduced, and it was finally allowed for release in Australia, also making it the very first game to receive the R18 rating.
Mark Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure was banned for supposedly glorifying graffiti.
The use of prostitutes in the later Grand Theft Auto games was usually censored in some way. Though all games have had at least an uncut version of all the games released (i.e. III, Vice City, and IV were uncensored with a 15+ for their PC release with IV getting a patch for consoles)
Singles: Flirt Up Your Life was banned for its high sexual content that would have been too much for the MA 15+ rating.
Post-R18+ The following examples failed to make the cut even after the R18+ rating was introduced, proving that even R18+ has standards.
Saints Row IV was banned for containing "interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context" which refers to an alien weapon called the Anal Probe and "elements of illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards", referring to alien narcotics which give the player superpowers. It turns out the censors basically said, "You can keep the rape in there, we're fine with that, but don't have drugs anywhere near our shores." The alien anal probe weapon is still in the game as DLC and the one mission centered on drugs was removed, allowing a MA rating.
South Park: The Stick of Truth had a similar reaction to an anal probing scene, though in this case it was mostly because the characters involved were minors. The scene was censored out of the Australian release and the game still got an R18+ rating.
State of Decay was also banned for depicting drug use as health and stamina power ups, but it was later resubmitted and reclassified R18+ after the drugs were changed to "vitamins".
It might be something about Deep Silver (see the Saints Row example above), but the trailer for Dead Island Riptide was shown on Australian TV during UFC Unleashed. Now MMA is in no way, shape, or form a soft sport, but when this aired, there was some controversy. While the frank depiction of suicide was an issue, the main thing that got it banned was the logo, which showed a man hanging from a noose in a tree. As a side note, the special collector's edition statue was condemned and banned for gross violence and misogyny (the statue is a headless, limbless woman's body in a bikini)
Australian Labor Party senator Stephen Conroy, since out of power, also took a cue from the Chinese and attempted to push through a law mandating that ISPs block certain blacklisted sites entirely. The Liberal Party had a similar plan when they were in government.
The French play The Marriage of Figaro was banned by Emperor Joseph due to its political subject matter and fears of a copycat unrest similar to that which would later claim the life of his sister. Contrary to popular belief, though, he approved Mozart's opera adaptation (which removed the offending material) from the start.
Any film that depicts Armenians in any positive light is banned. This even includes a film by Azeri director Eldar Guliev entitled "Hostage", a film about the Nagorno-Karabakh war which depicts an Armenian hostage in a human light. This is because since losing the Nagorno-Karabakh war, the demonization of Armenians has become state policy.
Black Swan was temporarily banned due to the lesbian sex scene between Nina (Natalie Portman) and Lily (Mila Kunis), which censors saw as "offensive sexual behavior." Public protest and a petition against the ban got it overturned and the film was eventually released with an R-rating.
In 1999 a judge ordered a ban on Herman Brusselmans' novel "Guggenheimer Wast Witter" in Belgium after fashion designer Ann Demeulemeester took offense on the author's semi-satirical descriptions of her looks and profession. Brusselmans has a reputation for poking fun at Flemish celebrities in his books in a very degrading manner that hardly has anything to do with the public image of these media stars. Yet, the novel was available in the Netherlands where it was mostly bought by Flemish (Flemish are the Dutch-speaking population of Belgium who live in the northern region known as Flanders).
Madonna''s song "Frozen" is officially banned in Belgium from radio and TV play and omitted from all compilation albums, because a judge ruled that Madonna's song was plagiarized from a few bars of the song "Ma vie fout le camp", composed by Salvatore Acquaviva.
Beyond Citizen Kane, a documentary about Globo, Brazil's biggest and most powerful TV network, was banned by the government in 1994. The ban was kind of useless, since many universities still screened it, and the popularization of the Internet allowed many people to watch it.
Video Gamesnote It should be pointed out that many of these bans were judicial orders, which are nearly impossible to enforce, have limited jurisdiction, and were in some cases unconstitutional. As such, many of these bans were pretty much ignored.
In 1997 and 1998, the original Grand Theft Auto and the two Carmageddon games were banned because it glamorized car theft and vehicular homicide, respectively.
Counter-Strike was banned from Brazil since January of 2008 because of a popular map mod called “Rio.” The authorities stated that in the game "your objective is to kill the military police of Rio for points as Drug Dealers from the Favelas and keeping members of the UN hostage for execution". It's a bit blown out of proportion, since you can play either side, the drug dealers are supposed to be international terrorists, and the "military police" is a non-specific counter-terrorist initiative. This is also only one of many unofficial maps that were made by modders, and the game itself has no responsibility over it. Pretty much none of this is actually spelled out in the game. The ban has since been lifted.
More specifically it was banned from continued retail sale, anyone who already possessed a copy before the ban could keep it. Many Lan-Houses kept their copies of the game with no repercussions.
Banned at the same time as Counter-Strike was Everquest because "the player can make morally ambiguous decisions, and thus the game is harmful to the consumer's mental health.”
Bully has been banned because of its depictions of school violence. Amazingly, this one is actually enforced by (of all things) Steam, where the game (and any package that contains it) is unavailable for purchase.
The video game of the 2003 The Cat in the Hat film was banned in Brazil because of copyright issues regarding the film.
The Simpsons season 13 episode "Blame It on Lisa" was only shown three times in Brazil before it garnered complaints and the government decided to ban it due to lots of scenes that mercilessly made fun of the country (including rats being painted beautiful colors as they run through the slum streets, Homer being distracted by an old peddler while her children pickpocket him, and Bart watching a Brazilian kids' show that features a lot of sexual innuendo and scantily-clad actresses). It would take years for FOX to be allowed to — if nothing else — let the episode be released on the season 13 DVD box set. According to DVD commentary, the writers were amazed that this episode caused that level of controversy (when really they wanted the episode "Weekend at Burnsie's"note The one where Homer gets high on medicinal marijuana after crows peck his eyes to garner controversy in America. It met with Executive Meddling due to the censors wanting some of the scenes of Homer actually smoking his medical marijuana cut down to just implied scenes, but no serious protests from MoralGuardians came to pass).
Burma banned Rambo (the 2008 film). Rebel factions then started watching Rambo. Funny how these things turn out. The ban was not surprising considering that the film portrays the Burmese government as an oppressive dictatorship, which, in real life, it is.
For starring as Aung San Suu Kyinote a Burmese opposition politician, chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Burma, and political prisoner due to her beliefs in a biographical movie, Malaysian-born actress Michelle Yeoh was banned from entering Burma.
U2's album All That You Can't Leave Behind is banned in Burma/Myanmar because the song "Walk On" is dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi.
There is a federal child pornography law that makes material depicting any sexual activity by any character under 18 as child pornography, even when it is simply drawn. Since the minimum lawful legal age for a person to have sex is 16note technically, 14, but both participants ages must be within 24 months of each other, this law makes it illegal to depict a legal act between characters supposed be between 16 to 18. To be fair, there is an artistic purpose defence clause in the law as well for artists to use in court.
The law itself specifies illegality if the person is or is depicted as being under 18.note s 163.1(a)(i) C.C.. Which means Pretty Lolita is a problem.
In addition, Canada's national customs authority have this reputation for being homophobic bluenoses with notorious cases where it arbitrarily seized male gay erotica by twisting court rulings about material depicting "violence against women" into a complete legal pretzel.
Disney's The Swamp Fox, which aired circa 1968 on 'Walt Disney Presents' was banned because the government didn't like the portrayal of the Tory/Loyalist characters as complete villains. Ironically, Canada is the homeland of the series' star, Leslie Nielsen.
The album version of Dire Straits' song "Money For Nothing" was temporarily banned from broadcast in Canada in 2011 due to its use of the homophobic slur "faggot". The ban was rescinded after being widely mocked, and after Mark Knopfler pointed out that the song was sung in character and was meant to be a mocking portrait of someone who would be ignorant and prejudiced enough to use that kind of language.
The Comedy Network series Kevin Spencer had its eighth episode banned due to violence and disgusting humor.
The Powerpuff Girls episode "The Rowdyruff Boys" did not air in the original YTV broadcast of the series, but it was shown as part of reruns later.
There is an urban legend about Donald Duck being banned in Finland, because he does not wear pants. As pointed out by the Snopes page, this was a complete misunderstanding of a 1977 incident where Markku Huolopainen, a Helsinki councilman from the Liberal Party, proposed discontinuing the purchase of Donald Duck comics for youth centres to cope with the city's financial difficulties. So, naturally, when he ran for Parliament next year, his opponent charged Huolopainen with trying to "ban" Donald Duck, and proceeded to defeat him. A similar financial difficulties-misunderstanding incident took place later in the city of Kemi. The legend is probably based on the few angry letters that the Finnish Donald Duck magazine received decades ago on the subject, and responded by publishing a picture of a ridiculous-looking duck with pants, which largely killed the issue. Many Finns find this legend amusing, in that the nudity taboo is far weaker in Finland than it ever has been in America, and there have been several comics in the country's national newspaper which have on occasion showed naked characters with visible but non-pronounced genitals, leading to no repercussions.
The Troma film Cry Uncle! was banned in Finland for a year following its release due to a scene in which the antihero has sex with a corpse.
The manga Angel by U-jin, published in France starting in 1995, suffered a process of “interdiction” which prevented bookshops from displaying it on shelves.
Wearing a burqa or niqab (two different forms of face-concealing veil for women in certain forms of Islamic Dress) in public is banned in France. This has caused a great deal of controversy, as a small but significant minority of Muslims regards these items as being religiously-mandated. As a result, various EU institutions and many commentators—particularly American ones—have criticized the ban as an infringement on religious freedom.
Baise Moi was the first film in three decades to be banned in France. It was eventually reclassified as X (generally a rating for porn), then 18 (which has this film to thank for its reintroduction as an official classification).
In Nazi Germany, the Laurel and Hardy film "The Bohemian Girl" (1934) was banned as Romani were on the Nazis' list of undesirable peoples who were exterminated under Hitler's rule.
The Nazis also banned Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator (1940). However, curiosity got the best of Hitler and had a private copy brought in from elsewhere which he viewed twice. His opinion on the film has been a matter of debate.
Sometimes the Nazis would ban their own movies if they weren't happy about how they turned out. Minister of Propaganda (and czar of the Nazi Germany film industry) Joseph Goebbels commissioned a film about the sinking of the Titanic, to be used as anti-British propaganda. But when the Nazi Titanic was completed, Goebbels decided a movie that featured terrified crowds running around in panic was no longer a good idea in a Germany that was getting pounded by Allied bombing. He banned it, and the film wasn't screened in Germany until 1949.
Volkswagen is sufficiently sensitive about the fact that the company was founded in part by Hitler that they still object to Volkswagens being depicted as weapons of war, hence the live-action film incarnation of Bumblebee being a Camaro, rather than a Beetle like his first-generation counterpart. General Motors wrote a big check to complete the change to a Camaro. The problem also arose when Hasbro wanted to make a new version of Bumblebee for the Alternators toy line, which consisted of robots that transformed into accurate (and licensed) 1:24 scale replicas of current cars.
There are essentially two tiers of banning films in Germany: banning them from being sold altogether, and allowing their sale but banning them from being advertised, displayed in shops, reviewed, or otherwise given publicity. Films in the latter category can't be sold to minors, which means that, with all the other constraints, they're only sold online.
A full list of all the books and plays banned in Nazi Germany would be rather unwieldy, but Jewish playwright Heinrich Heine's Almansor deserves special mention as the source of the quote "Where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people." This quote is now engraved in the ground at the Opernplatz, which is now called the Bebelplatz for being the site of a major Nazi Book Burning.
Averted with Mein Kampf, despite many thinking it is banned - it isn't. It still cannot be sold in Germany, but that is due to the fact that the state of Bavaria holds the copyright and does not publish it.
The Star Trek episode "Patterns Of Force" was banned in Germany note the only Star Trek episode from the original 1966 series to hold this honor; "Amok Time," on the other hand, wasn't banned, but was edited for content because the plot deals with a planet heavily influenced by the Nazi Party.
Due to the unresolved state of the Germany's eastern border and the Oder-Neise line, until 1970 any map which didn't featured Germany into the frontiers it held on 1937 was banned from being imported in West Germany.
Germany classifies all games (including video games) as children's toys. Among other things, it bans the depiction of swastikas and other Nazi-related stuff in non-educational media (under a law prohibiting the use of symbols of anti-constitutional groups unless it's for historical/educational reasons).
In Hearts of Iron 2, Nazi Germany uses the Imperial Tricolour (think the Red Baron's plane), which the Nazis actually banned, instead of a swastika flag. It was easier to change it accordingly to the issues of the German than Chinese law, because Paradox would have had to completely re-balance the game for a release in China.
Bionic Commando Rearmed is an interesting aversion/subversion. The game is not banned in Germany because it has no Nazi imagery. However, the main villain is obviously supposed to be Adolf Hitler, even though he's never referred to as such by name. In the English version, he's known simply as "The Leader". The German translation refers to him as "Der Führer", which makes it even more obvious.
As a result, the two Secret Level homages to Wolfenstein 3D were removed entirely in the German release of Doom II, with the secret exit in Map 15: Industrial Zone simply leading to Map 16: Suburbs as if the normal exit was taken. If the player attempts to access the levels with the level select cheat code, the game will crash.
Hidden And Dangerous was censored of all blood and Nazi symbols - but the original textures are still in the installation directory. A little tweaking with WinRAR can undo the censoring.
The entire Nimdok section of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream was removed in the German release due to it being set in a concentration camp, thus making the game unwinnable, as the final part of the game requires all four characters.
And then there's the mass censoring of violence. A side effect of this tendency is that Austrian online shops are far more successful than German video game dealers:
Team Fortress Classic, the German version, was virtually unplayable: Every class model was replaced by the generic death match "Robot" model, so you couldn't tell enemy classes apart. The German version of Team Fortress 2 uses the weird organs from Party Mode permanently.
Let's not forget Half-Life. All blood was removed, HECU soldiers were replaced with the same robots as mentioned above, and scientists, rather than dying, sat down and shook their heads.
A well-known example is Turok, in which human opponents were replaced by robots that "bled" green liquid.
Resident Evil 4 was so badly chopped up on its German release that German gamers took to importing copies from other countries just to get around it. Ironically, at least one scene ended up with even more disturbing implications as a result of having its end replaced with a fadeout.
The German versions of Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn and Command & Conquer: Red Alert had to tool tip refer to infantry units as "Cyborgs". When they died, the sound would resemble that of power going down, and there was no blood. The censorship of the German version becomes apparent in the first minutes of the game if you've played the English-language version. Some shots from the cut scenes were also cut, leaving bits with gruesome deaths (such as Stavros killing Stalin) somewhat disjointed. However, under EA things have changed for the better. Tiberium Wars had two versions for the European market, one with censorship and one uncut, 16+ version.
Command & Conquer: Generals was hit even harder. It was originally released uncensored (which would later turn into the favour of uncensor mods) but that version was later censored. Zero Hour only came out censored. The changes in Generals are removing all references to the actual countries the game names, turning all infantry into "cyborgs" including photoshoping every single picture for the same purpose, making the audio sound overly robotic and overriding various voice overs with neutral ones (copy paste), removing a mission of the GLA campaign, removing all video of the campaigns and turning the Terrorist unit into a toy car with a bomb strapped to it (would ALSO later turn into the favour of modders). Zero Hour kept its videos but only censored and all other changes still applied.
In Wing Commander IV, the scene where Seether slits Captain Paulson's throat has two versions, with and without gushing blood. The latter is the one found on the German release of the game.
The German version of Left 4 Dead 2 is censored, similar to the above-mentioned Australian version. However, the German version also features four extra weapons ported from Counter-Strike: Source, which don't normally spawn in other versions of the game.
Madworld is banned in Germany due to extreme violence, despite being showcased at the Games Convention before its launch.
Carmageddon also had to be censored in Germany. However, the German version used robots as targets instead of humans or zombies. The uncensored version was never released. This could, however, be fixed of sorts by swapping the names of two files in the install folder, thereby restoring some of the original content.
Germany flat-out refused to rate Dead Rising. Microsoft won't release games unless they are properly rated by a country's review board, so no Dead Rising .
An incredibly surprising aversion to this is Shadows Of The Damned, which was allowed to be released uncut. UN-CUT. (For those who are unfamiliar with this game, it is filled to the brim with disturbing, gory, and horrific imagery)
And even more surprising Gears of War 3 and Space Marine will be uncut. Made even more surprising by the fact that the first two GOW games weren't rated due to violence and thus not released in Germany.
Shadow Dancer is banned in Germany, which led to the game being dropped from Sega Mega Drive Collection in the PAL region and Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection in all regions and one trophy in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing being named "Shadow Dancing" instead.
When the Wii U first launched in November 2012, the European Nintendo eShop restricted viewing pages for content rated 18 by PEGI to between 11 P.M and 3 A.M CET. This also meant that purchasing any 18-rated game (Zombi U,Assassin's Creed III etc.) digitally was restricted to this time. As Nintendo's European division is based in Germany, the decision was shaped by the country's laws preventing sales of such games to minors. The problem was that this policy was in effect for all of Europe, even if many countries didn't have the same strict laws as Germany. Thankfully this was lifted just a few months after launch and 18-rated games can now be viewed and purchased anytime off the eShop.
The Mickey Mouse short "The Barnyard Battle" (1929) was banned back then for depicting soldiers using pickelhauben, the helmets used by German soldiers in World War I.
The Simpsons episode "Cape Feare" from season five was banned due to Bart (a child character) being targeted by a murderer, the "Up Late with McBain" sequence, which featured the show announcer dressed as in S.S. gear, and a woman's line at Sideshow Bob's parole hearing "No one who speaks German could be an evil man."
Because of Japan's earthquake and nuclear disaster in 2011, a lot of the older episodes that feature Homer working at the nuclear plant (mainly "Homer Defined"note the season 3 episode where Homer inadvertently saves the town from a nuclear disaster, but feels bad because he just lucked out and season five's "Homer Goes to College") have been banned from airing.
Costa-Gavras' film Z, being a political thriller based on the assassination of an outspokenly pacifist, left-wing politician, was predictably banned under the military dictatorship of 1967-1974.
The infamous Greek Electronic Gaming Ban prohibited gaming in public in an attempt to fight gambling. This made life difficult for companies to give their videogames a Greek fanbase. Luckily, the ban has since been lifted and fanbases are slowly making a comeback.
The Red Lion by Maria Szepes was banned for forty years after being considered "nonconformist" by the Hungarian communist regime at the time.
India threatened to ban the Microsoft Windows operating system (yes, really) because their time zone showed the India/Pakistan border according to the U.N. maps instead of their own maps.
Contrary to popular belief, the lesbian romance Fire was never banned; instead, it was withdrawn from theaters for a short period for re-examination by the censor board. The main backlash came from fundamentalist religious groups who claimed it to be "culturally offensive". Some even went so far as to attack the theaters that were screening the movie; showings were canceled because of this. However, the next time there was an attack, the audience who'd come to see the film, along with the theater ushers, beat up the attackers and chased them off. Business then continued as usual. After the subsequent withdrawal and re-examination by the the censor board, it was re-released with no additional cuts with a normal "Adult" (R) rating and went on to become a decent financial success with no further incidents.
The Australian film "Balibo", which depicts the killing of Australian journalists by Indonesian soldiers during the 1975 invasion of East Timor, is banned in Indonesia. The Indonesian government's version of the story stated that they died in crossfire. A local journalists’ association conducted a screening, attended by about 500 people.
The government considered banning the disaster film 2012 after influential Islamic organizations complained that the film would affect superstitious people who actually believed that that year would bring about the end of days (it didn't, but a lot of people believed that back then).
The Indonesian-Japanese film Merdeka 17805 was banned for depicting the Japanese as being superior and for its apparently disrespectful usage of Indonesia Raya.
Darren Aronofsky's Noah is banned as it contradicts the Islamic teachings where Noah is considered one of the important prophets of Allah.
DmC: Devil May Cry was banned because the intro includes a sex scene, and one early cutscene has a glimpse of Dante's penis. This ban only applies to the PC version; the console versions were released, but with the aforementioned content cut or censored.
Far Cry 3 was banned because of derogatory dialogue toward Indonesia.
An ISP specializing in providing Internet service for Smart Phones, banned 4chan.org, complete with a "Sorry, but you are forbidden to access 4chan.org" page with a smiley face on a light blue background.
Any form of media in Iran needs the permission of the Ministry of Islamic Culture for distribution, which sets an arbitrary array of rules subject to change at any time by the government. These rules include any form of pornography or sexual imagery (particularly centered on the display of the female form, which in the Islam religion, is taboo), political material not in agreement with the government's goals, and any form of communication criticizing Islam. These restrictions are often circumvented by physical and internet piracy, use of satellite dishes and illegal used book markets.
The film 300, where the Persians are portrayed as slavering, inhuman monsters, if by an Unreliable Narrator, was banned in Iran.
The Lifetime Movie of the WeekNot Without My Daughter, where the Persian men are portrayed as slavering, inhuman monsters note which actually is no different from a normal Lifetime Movie of the Week, in which all men are portrayed as slavering, inhuman monsters, was also banned in Iran.
The Wrestler was considered Western propaganda just like the above two, likely because of The Ram's in-ring nemesis being named The Ayatollah.
Argo, a film about the rescue of six hostages during the Iranian Hostage Crisis is not suprisingly banned, but bootleg copies are selling very well.
Parodied on the season 38 finale of Saturday Night Live, in which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (played by Fred Armisen) creates his own version of Argo called Bengo F**k Yourself (a Take That to Ben Affleck).
Pretty much anything created by members of the Baha'i Faith is banned in Iran. One newspaper was closed down in 2009 because it had an advertisement featuring a photo of a Baha'i temple.note It was almost certainly a "Visit India" or "Visit Delhi" ad; unfortunately for the newspaper, one of the most prominent symbols of modern Delhi is a great big Baha'i temple.
The 1926 Committee on Evil Literature forbade the likes of News of the World, The People, Sunday Chronicle, Daily Mail, Vogue, Woman's Weekly, Woman's World, and Illustrated Police News — the tabloids mostly for lurid descriptions of violence and sex; the women's magazines mostly for discussing women's issues that are in conflict with what Irish women were brought up to believe (including an ad for depilatory cream).
Starting in the 1970s, the Irish government instituted a broadcasting ban on the IRA. In 1988, they added a similar ban which applied to all terrorist organizations in the UK. Both were lifted in 1994, but during this period, any material mentioning The Troubles was not broadcast. For example, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The High Ground" had Data mention that Ireland was reunited in 2024 after a successful "terrorist" campaign. This comment would have seemed so controversial to both sides in The Troubles that it wasn't until 2006 that the full version was broadcast.
Goldfinger was temporarily banned because Gert Fröbe, the man who played the eponymous character, had been a member of the Nazi party from 1929 to 1937. The ban was lifted after it was discovered that he had actually helped two Jews hide from the Gestapo during the war.
Reportedly, there were attempts to bring The Beatles to perform in Israel in 1965, but certain politicians prevented this due to the "bad effect they might have on the youth".
Amanda Knox's family managed to get Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy banned in Italy on the belief that it had the potential to taint Knox's appeals. It certainly might have helped Knox get back home to Seattle several months after the trial. The movie managed to be aired in Italy in December 2012.
Lion of the Desert, a Libyan (or, better: Gaddafi)-funded film about the Italian colonial rule, has been banned in Italy since 1987.
Back in 1989, Madonna's music video for the song "Like A Prayer" was banned for symbolism that would be considered blasphemous to the Catholic church (Jesus coming to life as a handsome black man and crosses being set on fire. America also had complaints about the "Like a Prayer" video for the same reasons — especially the burning crosses, which, in America, is associated with the Ku Klux Klan — and ended up banning it after playing it on MTV).
Focus groups already found South Park controversial, so it was no surprise when the episodes "Cartman Joins NAMBLA", "Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?", and "Probably" wound up banned. "Cartman Joins NAMBLA" was pulled for references to homosexual pedophilia and infanticide while the "Do The Handicapped Go to Hell?"-"Probably" two-parter was pulled for mocking and asking too many questions about the Catholic faith.
Anime and Manga
The infamous Pokémon episode "Electric Soldier Porygon" was not just forbidden by Nintendo to be exported to other countries, but also banned in Japan after hundreds of viewers (most of which were children) suffered fits from the seizure-inducing strobe effects. Because of this, the series was put on hiatus for four months, and a policy was made for Japanese television that demands flashing effects be toned down.
The manga Barefoot Gen has never been banned in Japan at the national level (and never banned from private sales), but it has been banned from libraries at the local level on multiple occasions.
In 2012, a right wing group complained to the Matsue city assembly to ban the manga from school libraries because it contained "unsupported" depictions of Japanese atrocities. The city assembly refused to act, but the local school board subsequently moved all copies in local elementary and middle schools to closed shelves, effectively stopping students from reading the work at school. When this action became widely known nationally in 2013, there was a large public outcry. In the ensuing controversy, Japan's education minister commented that he found the ban to be appropriate, though he took no actions himself. In the end, the school board reconvened and unanimously decided to lift the ban, though it it left it to individual schools to decide how they wanted to treat the books.
In 2011, the legal guardian of a child complained to the central library of the city of Tottori that it was inappropriate to have a manga "with rape and other sexual depictions in a place where children can reach it." The library removed the work from its shelves and decided to provide it only to those who specifically asked for it. After the scandal in Matsue mentioned above, the library moved the manga back to the shelves.
Video games in Japan are regulated by an industry body called the Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (CERO), similar to the ESRB in the US. They have been known to refuse classification or require extensive editing for some games that might not be similarly restricted in other countries. A refusal of classification makes it de facto impossible to sell official Japanese versions of the game. However, unless it would be legally considered obscene (which only explicit depictions of sexualized nudity would be), the game, including all of the games listed below, can still be relatively easily imported via online retailers.
Call of Duty: World At War has not been released officially in Japan. The web site Games Radar.com, in a list of "Top 10 banned videogames," claims that it was banned in Japan for "gory violence against Japanese soldiers," but articles on the game written in Japanese seem to indicate that it simply was never submitted for classification, possibly because it might be refused classification, or possibly just for business reasons. Other games in the same series have been officially released in Japan with the highest possible rating (18+ only), due to their gore.
While it escaped a total ban, the Japanese version of Fallout 3 cut out the option to detonate the atomic bomb in the center of Megaton during the quest "The Power of the Atom", and renamed the Fat Man (a rocket launcher that fires mini-nukes, named after the real nuke detonated over Nagasaki, Japan during World War II) to the Nuka-Launcher.
Dead Space was refused classification in Japan for its extreme violence, particularly the use of children as victims of violent crime.
Lady Chatterley's Lover was determined by the Supreme Court to be legally "obscene" in 1957, the case having originated in 1951. The Japanese translator and the publisher were both subjected to fines, and unexpurgated versions of the text could not be legally sold under Paragraph 175 of the Japanese Penal Code,note Not to be confused with the infamous Paragraph 175 of the German Penal Code, which banned homosexuality in that country. The coincidence of the number of two different paragraphs both dealing with crimes of a sexual nature is, in fact, due to the Japanese code having been based, in part, on the German code, but homosexuality has never been illegal under either of Japan's constitutions (though it was very briefly banned for a few years immediately after the opening of Japan to the West, before the passage of the Meiji Constitution). which bans the sale, publication, and exhibition (but not the possession) of obscene works. The Chatterley trial, indeed, originated the criteria Japanese courts use to judge whether or not a work is obscene. Versions of the novel sold in Japan from the 1950s through the 1990s had the offending parts replaced with asterisks. From the 1990s uncensored versions of the novel began to be sold. Interestingly, on paper the relevant legislation has not changed, and there has not been a legal case that has officially overturned the 1957 ruling. Rather, prosecutors and the government have taken no action against publishers, resulting in a de facto but somewhat confusing change in Japan's obscenity laws.
The Bells of Nagasaki, a non-fiction account of the atomic bombing of that city by a survivor, was initially refused publication under the censorship regime during the American occupation. It was eventually allowed to be published with an accurate but off-topic appendix about atrocities perpetrated by the Japanese tacked onto the end, presumably for "balance." Versions published after the end of the occupation, as well as English translations, generally omit the appendix.
In 1999, Japan's customs authority banned the importation of a book of photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe, despite it having previously been published in the country without incident. In 2008, the Supreme Court overturned the ban.
Historian Saburo Ienaga holds the distinction of being the complainant in the longest civil trial in any country on record, after he sued the Japanese education ministry over its refusal to approve to his history book, which did not shy away from depicting war-time atrocities by the Japanese, from 1965-1997. Ienaga and his lawyers argued that the refusal to approve the book constituted censorship, though there was never any ban on the sale of the book, just on its use as an official textbook in schools. In the end, the Supreme Court ruled that no censorship had taken place (for the above-mentioned reason) but that the ministry had nonetheless abused its discretion in not approving the book.
The 2009 Indonesian film Macabre is banned in Malaysia for excessive violence.
Any family film featuring pigs will raise an outcry and debates between Muslims (whose religion sees pigs as filthy scavengers, whether or not they're used as food) and Non-Muslims in Malaysia. In the past, this has caused temporary or partial bans (i.e. a film may be delayed for months, or will be forced to bypass theater release and go straight to VHS and later, DVD). Both movies in the Babe franchise got months-long bans while a debate was fought out (the first movie was delayed 9 months, the second got a shorter four months). Charlotte's Web nearly got the axe as well, but it was released on time.
Most Christian movies featuring prophets in them were banned in the 1990s in order to placate the Muslim population (Muslims don't allow prophets to be visually depicted. It's about as blasphemous as having Mohammed himself visually depicted, which is why South Park's "Cartoon Wars" and "200/201" caused such an uproar in the mid-to-late 2000s). However, the ban was lifted since the release of The Passion of the Christ, though screening of these movies are limited to non-Muslims only (with ID checks performed at both the ticket counter and at the entry point of the hall).
Darren Aronofsky's Noah got banned considering that Noah is a prophet in Islamic teachings. Which is puzzling since as mentioned below, Evan Almighty was allowed through.
The movie Zoolander was banned because one of the main plot points is the assassination of the country's fictional prime minister (which is ultimately what they were trying to prevent) and its depiction of Malaysia in overall (impoverished, and whose economy is fueled by sweatshops). Also banned in Singapore, but was lifted 5 years later.
Steven Spielberg famously refused to let Malaysia screen the edited version of his movie Schindler's List since its Zionist theme is the main plot point. The movie was only released on DVD more than a decade later. Munich suffered the same fate.
Borat, Brokeback Mountain and the last few Saw movies never saw the light of day in the country due to crude humor (Borat), strong homosexual themes (Brokeback Mountain), and gory violence (the Saw movies).
Bruce Almighty was nearly banned due to the movie's plot about a guy (Jim Carrey) given God-like powers by an Almighty Janitor (Morgan Freeman). While most Muslim sectors considered this movie offensive, non-Muslims stated that the movie is not offensive to any religion whatsoever. The movie was finally screened unedited. Evan Almighty, the spin-off featuring Steve Carrell's character from Bruce Almighty meeting the God-like janitor and becoming a modern-day Noah, suffered the same problem, although it too was eventually screened.
Sin City, due to brutal violence and explicit sexual content.
Daredevil was initially banned due to violence, but has been released on home video.
The second Austin Powers movie due to crude humor, though it was eventually allowed on satellite TV and later home video.
The American Pie trilogy (sexual content) - also finally to be released direct to DVD. The fourth movie of the trilogy, American Reunion, was initially banned from screening on pay TV (Notoriously, the Malaysian feed of the HBO premiere of the movie was forcibly removed and a different movie was screened in it's place.) but again it was eventually allowed a direct-to-DVD release.
The Singaporean film Homerun was banned for political reasons (the film is a satire on Singaporean-Malaysian relations set in the year the two countries split up).
The 2012 Indian comedy OMG, Oh My God! was banned for "sensitive religious content." The movie is about a shopkeep who sues God Himself (depicted as a human) after his store is destroyed in a tornado. Ironically, the episode Angels and Blimps from Ally McBeal, which has a child who wants to sue god, was allowed through albeit with only minor cuts...
Platoon was banned due to its excessive profanity and violence.
Currently there is an e-mail circulating around Malaysian mailboxes claiming that hot cross buns have been banned due to, of all things, the cross pattern on the bun. The e-mail claims that the ban was called by the same minister who called for the Erykah Badu ban.
Red Bull was actually banned in the 90s due to worries over the high caffeine content. The ban was overturned once it was determined that the levels of caffeine had no ill effects on the drinker.
Nudity in non-sexual contexts in magazines like National Geographic are censored by scribbling out the offending body parts with black markers (not unlike what most prude librarians and soccer moms do in America). For example, an issue about King David had a picture of Michaelangelo's famous statue edited to cover up his crotch. It should be noted that this only applies to materials that are printed locally however (National Geographic also prints a Malaysian edition of their magazine). Imported materials with nudity are usually either outright barred from entry, or allowed through untouched if it's justified to be "for research purposes".
Jerry Springer was pulled off the air after only one episode due to its depraved content.
Also according to The Other Wiki, the episodes But I'm a Cheerleader and The Videotape from Friends are also banned, at least from broadcast.
Gruff's Groove Box is a case of this crossed with No Export for You and Screwed by the Network. What happened was, the show was unfortunately launched just one day before the passing of the king (specifically, the Agong, or ruling king of the country). A local law which state that upbeat music must be outlawed for a month was enforced and the show was forcibly replaced in the Malaysian feed of Nickelodeon with reruns of Legends of the Hidden Temple. Given how Gruff performed badly in other markets that it was cancelled after only a few episodes (to give an idea of how bad it is, the show was cancelled by Nickelodeon while the ban was still in effect) and Nickelodeon now pretends that the show never existed, the show has absolutely no chance of being seen in Malaysia. It should be noted that Gruff wasn't the only casualty from the tempban- other Music Video channels also went black for a whole month, taking with them any one-time specials, short-lived shows, and music videos that only aired within that period.
Madonna, due to her long, risque resume, is not allowed to perform in Malaysia.
Linkin Park was not allowed to wear short pants, spit, curse, throw things into the crowd, jump around, or "scream excessively" during their concert. Their live routine typically involves all of the above, except for wearing shorts.
In his autobiography, Meat Loaf lamented how hard it was to perform his "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" number in Muslim countries, since he was not allowed to touch any of his female back up singers on stage. Also, the female back up singers had to cover their shoulders and midriffs due to Islamic law over the female body being exposed.
On the topic of skimpy outfits, Beyonce switched her concert venue from Kuala Lumpur to the Indonesian capital Jakarta because she would have faced censure for wearing something considered obscene by Islamic law. It should be noted that Indonesia has more Muslims than Malaysia, though Indonesia's entertainment is more secular and not as tightly bound by Muslim law as it is in Malaysia or even any Middle Eastern country (with the possible exception of Israel) you can name.
Michael Jackson's first concert in the country was cancelled and he was banned from performing live in Malaysia because of his infamous crotch-grab dance move. The concert was Un-Cancelled a few days later and the ban removed when Jackson promised not to do the crotch-grab for his Malaysian audience (even though this had an unfortunate side-effect of causing the venue of the concert to change).
In 2009, the Malaysian government declared that Muslim citizens would be prohibited from attending the Black Eyed Peas' concert there on the grounds that it was being sponsored by Guinness, a beer company (alcohol of any kind is forbidden from the Muslim religion). The government later rescinded the ban and allowed Muslims to buy tickets.
In 2012, Erykah Badu was banned from performing in Malaysia due to accidental publication of an image of her wearing, of all things, a temporary tattoo with the name of the Muslim god on it in a local newspaper. Yes, this is considered blasphemous to the Muslim religion, but the picture wasn't even meant for publication in Malaysia; the image was stolen off the Internet via a random Google images search. And it was a temporary tattoo which has since been removednote It was one of those rub-on tattoos that can be easily washed off with soap and water. Needless to say, her Malaysians fans aren't pleased with the ban.
A classical number called Mamula Moon and any other songs that share it's tune, due to the tune being the tune of the national anthem of Malaysia. Because the national anthem was ascended from the anthem of the State of Perak, who copied it's tune from a popular tune of that period. And when pointed at the fact a century or two later, the government banned other songs that share the tune on the grounds that the country's anthem is much more important, and that the other songs are disrespectful of the country.
The music video for Aqua's Barbie Girl is banned either due to the use of brand names or because of the conflation between Barbie and babi (pig).
U.S. Acres comics are never available in print in newspapers in Malaysia unless it's a newspaper that is carrying Garfield and said strip was being used as a filler for some reason. And when they are, all depictions of Orson the pig (the main character) are edited out to comply with Muslim censorship rules.
As Malaysia is officially recognized as a Islamic country (but in reality is a multicultural melting pot, much like America), slots and other forms of electronic gambling are only available to "licensed" premises. This typically means they're only available in one place: Genting Highlands. The police have power to and would typically raid arcades and revoke business licenses as well as confiscate all machines in the premise if so much as one gambling game is found in the premise. However, in reality, this has only resulted in arcades disguising their one armed bandits as legal video game machines. Yeah, you're right when you noticed that something's strange with the The King of Fighters machine in the back corner of an arcade. Although to be fair, they are still regularly found out and shut down from time to time. This only applies to machines that pay out cash. Machines that pay out tokens and tickets are generally treated much more leniently.
South Park never made it to Malaysian television due to its excessive and explicity crude content, but was released on home video.
The Other Wiki states that Family Guy was at one point (temporarily) banned in the country due to complaints from Muslim viewers over the content of some of the episodes. Apparently the ban has been lifted, but since then epsiodes are heavily cut, the show is only available over pay satellite TV, and the former terrestrial channel that carried the show, 8TV, now refuses to carry it.
For some reason, The BBC refuses to screen Huxley Pig and Wibbly Pig on it's Malaysian feed of CBeebies. The reason for this is unknown since they do screen Big Barn Farm and Tilly and Friends (both which contain pigs as supporting characters) uncut in the country.
Nick Jr Asia refuses to screen Peppa Pig and Toot And Puddle (and it's spinoff, Olivia) on the Malaysian feed of the channel for reasons unknown.
Several Arthur fans suspect that said show has been quietly banned due to either Marc Brown being revealed to have converted to Judaismnote The Malaysian government is pro-Palestine and strongly backs Palestine's claim on the Gaza Strip, and has a strong anti-Judaism bias or the controversial Postcards From Buster episode where Buster meets a girl with lesbian parents. Backing this claim is that Arthur books have vanished from shelves in almost all bookstores in the country where they were once plentiful. There is no official word on the matter, but it does all seem suspicious.
Initially subverted with the unveiling of the MSC Bill of Guarantees and the Multimedia Act. However, the MCMC took back their words and ordered the blocking of 19 filesharing sites.
A filter exists to block websites that "contains illegal contents according to Malaysian law" was also put up recently. If anything, the government appears to be keen on making high speed broadband as inaccessible to the public as possible- with extremely slow rollout, low speeds compared to other countries, and negligence on the backbone, resulting in congestion, in addition to the filters causing slowdowns due to packet inspection at the international gateways.
Access to in-the-clear mailservers (POP3, IMAP or SMTP servers that aren't protected by SSL or TLS) have been blocked by all ISPs - the government claims that this is to stop spammers and scammers.
IRC port ranges 6667 to 6670 has been blocked by at least one high-speed ISP. The reason given was that it was "vulnerable and will jeopardize TM Network and TM Services if it let be open" (*sic*), which is an extreme lie.
SSH port 22 is also allegedly blocked by said ISP for the same reason.
It was recently found that rpc1.org is blocked on this ISP as well. Apparently said ISP thinks that removing Region Coding from a DVD or Blu-Ray drive one owns is illegal. note It's illegal in the US due to the DMCA, but there is no law on circumventing region coding in Malaysia. Heck, one can even walk into any electronics store and ask for a region free DVD player (though one can't ask for a region free blu-ray player because they simply don't exist yet). Furthermore only this one ISP blocks the site, or IRC and SSH.
VPN has been blocked by one mobile ISP called YTL E-Services in the country. No reason was given.
P2P clients like BitTorrent tends to fail to connect to peers from outside the country on many ISPs. This make it a hassle for those who has valid uses for P2P, i.e. StarCraft II's updater.
The Last Temptation of Christ premiered in the USA in 1988 and was banned in Mexico until 2005. The ruling government back then had a huge influence on media content, though the contributing factor to the ban were the fundamentalist Christian Media Watchdogs who were afraid of what "superstitious viewers" would do after watching a film that depicted Jesus Christ as a flawed human being.
Several right-wing groups have tried to ban Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 in some parts of Mexico because the bad guys depicted are Mexican even though they are rebels against the Mexican government and the players end up teaming with Mexican loyalists. Ditto goes for the Russian ultra-nationalists in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
The Laurel and Hardy film Scram (1932) was banned back in 1932, as moral crusaders thought the scene of Laurel and Hardy lying on a bed with a woman (even though it was, at worst, mildly risque) was indecent.
Puni Puni Poemy was classified as 'objectionable material' by the Office of Film & Literature Classification (OFLC), on the grounds that it depicted sexual exploitation of minors.
The first Mad Max film was initially banned for 4 years, meaning that it was shown later than its sequel The Road Warrior, owing to sensitivities over a real-life gang incident in the late 1970s that paralleled the 'Goose is cooked' scene.
Power Rangers was banned from TV in New Zealand ever since its first season due to complaints from parents whose children injured themselves trying to imitate the show's fight scenes (which does sound like something the United States would pull), which is funny, considering that Power Rangers Ninja Storm (and every series afterward) is filmed on location in New Zealand with New Zealand-born actors and actresses.
District 9 was banned from theaters in Nigeria thanks to its unflattering depictions of Nigerian gangsters and scammers.
Most foreign things are banned in North Korea, probably the most isolated country in the world. Even getting caught listening to South Korean music gets you arrested and hauled off to tortures and punishments too gruesome to mention, which is a problem, as South Korea broadcasts radio signals across the border and even taunts North Korea by playing pop music into the Korean demilitarized zone. The nation even has its own Internet that is completely separate from the normal World Wide Web, so as not to bring in any outside influence. While it would be safe to say that everything is banned in North Korea, there are some minor exceptions:
The only Western movie that has ever been shown on North Korean TV was a heavily-abridged version of Bend It Like Beckham.
If you're a tourist, the bans are averted since your hotel will have some Western channels (like BBC Worldwide). However, they don't care as much because, (1) you, as a foreigner, have already been "exposed" to these corrupting influences and, 2) as a tourist, you are not allowed to go out on your own and talk to any North Koreans that are on your propagandized tour of the nation.
In the 1990s, the government allowed the book version of Gone with the Wind to be imported and translated. This seems to have been done for propaganda reasons, adhering to the classic Marxist interpretation of The American Civil War as a victory for bourgeois capitalism. The book has since become wildly popular, though less for the reasons the government had hoped and more because the North Korean people can relate to the struggle for survival in a poor country torn apart by war.
Eventually, Voltes V and Daimos were re-aired after the dictator stepped down, but the other three have yet to be shown again... save for Gaiking (but the version shown years later was from the Force Five version, not the original).
All of Claire Danes' films were banned after some comments she made in Variety while promoting Brokedown Palace (which was filmed in the Philippines) were deemed insensitive by the government.
Cannibal Holocaust, due to extreme violence and animal cruelty. But somehow, there are a bunch of bootleg copies around.
There was an attempt to ban the film version of The Da Vinci Code nationwide by fundamentalist-conservative Catholic groups back in 2006. However, the MTRCB just slapped a R-18 rating on it. The SM Supermalls, the largest chain of shopping malls in the country, prohibited the showing of movie in all of their theaters nationwide as to comply with their policy not to show R-18 films. The movie was banned in Manila but it was shown in other places outside Manila. But the BD and DVD versions are still available in local store nationwide.
Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo were novels released during the Spanish occupation of the country. Since they spoke about nationwide corruption in the government and church, you can imagine the ruling Spanish and archbishops weren't going to let something like that getting printed in the country. In the post-Spanish occupation Philippines, these once-banned books are now studied in Filipino high schools and colleges.
During the Estado Novo ("New State") dictatorship, which lasted between 1933 and 1974, over 3500 films were banned for "moral" and political reasons, while others never went to the censors because the distributors knew they wouldn't pass. Amongst those were:
any "Russian"/Soviet film (between 1936 and 1970),
any Eastern European film (between 1947 and 1970), and
See the "Soviet Union" folder for bans that took place under communist rule.Film
Russia doesn't technically ban movies, but the Ministry of Culture did officially recommend that Borat not be shown in theatres. The weirdness of the Kazakh jokes was the American audience being so ignorant they didn't know anything about this huge country - even extremely basic stuff like Kazakh people looking more ethnically Middle Eastern/East Asian instead of like the hairy and Jewish Sacha Baron Cohen. This was bound to be lost on Russians who don't have to deal with American ethnic ignorance on a daily basis, but do have to deal with Central Asians being a growing ethnic minority and most likely being offended by the stereotypes portrayed in the movie.
Charlie Wilson's War is not actually banned, but Universal Pictures International Russia decided not to release it as it was thought that a film with such a strong anti-Soviet tone would be unlikely to make a profit in Russia. Among the Russians who have seen the film, the response is overwhelming negative.
Modern Warfare 2 was released in Russia without its infamous airport level.
Company of Heroes 2 was banned for "overblown fabrications of history", and "offensive and stereotypical lies about Soviet soldiers" and all retail copies were withdrawn from stores. What really stands out is that this was done because this was demanded by regular players through a petition.
Access to YouTube has been denied, as the website was used for hosting extremist videos and writings by Adolf Hitler. However, it has now been allowed again.
Russia started formal banning of Internet resources advertising drugs, suicide, terrorism and homosexuality. It is quite often that the notice is served to LiveJournal about a repost, while the original site gets under radar. What qualifies for advertising suicide? A PSA about railway safety.
Saudi Arabia banned Jalila and Aya because the government considered the heroines'costumes◊ indecent, as per Islamic law.
In another truly bizarre move (although perhaps related to Islamic law and its issues with the female body), Barbie dolls are banned. They are referred to by the government as "Jewish Dolls" or "Zionist Dolls" and are seen as "symbols of the perversion and decadence of the West." Instead, they came out with a replacement named Fulla. It's mostly the same, except she promotes Muslim values and isn't dressed indecently by the standards of Islamic law.
Pokémon is also banned there too. They denounced it as "promoting gambling and Zionism". However, that hasn't stopped some of the media from being obtained, according to Bulbapedia, the Pokemon wiki. The main victim was the Trading Card Game.
Anime and Manga
One of Macross Plus's soundtrack CDs was banned in Singapore because of the song "Idol Talk", which contains samples of dialogue from a phone sex operator.
The Chinese example of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End was subverted in Singapore with huge posters of Sao Feng with the slogan "Welcome to Singapore" being put up around some of the country's more touristy districts.
As mentioned before, Zoolander was initially banned as a move of goodwill towards neighbor Malaysia. However, the ban was lifted 5 years later, when political ties between Malaysia and Singapore suffered a strain due to some careless words. The ties have been mended, but since the movie has already been unbanned, re-banning it would be like putting a baby back in the womb after it's been born.
Chewing gum and bubble gum are banned in Singapore, with the exception of therapeutic gum for medicinal uses.
Material promoting socialism is prohibited in Singapore.
In movies and TV shows, scenes or dialogue containing language that is religiously profane or trashes religion is censored.
The song "Puff The Magic Dragon" was apparently banned back in 1963 due to its lyrics allegedly being a metaphor for drugs. Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore do not mess around when it comes to drugs and depictions of it in the media. However, Malaysia and Thailand saw it (correctly, as it happens) as an innocent children's song and nothing more, and thus it wasn't banned in those countries.
During the time period of the Hot Coffee debacle, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was banned in Singapore, probably one of the first few video games to be banned in the country.
Mass Effect was banned because of a brief lesbian sex scene for all but around two days before being unbanned and given an M18 rating. This news story also brought us this video by the Media Development Authority, the people who banned it in the first place.
Like in China, many websites are blocked in Singapore by the Media Development Authority. The official websites of publications like Playboy and Penthouse are blocked, as well as "lifestyle sites" that condone homosexuality. Many pornographic video streaming tube sites, in particular anything under the new ".xxx" and ".sex" domain addresses being assigned to nsfw websites, are blocked as well. As of late, though, the government has been considering lifting the ban (at least partially) in favour of end-user or service-provider based web filters.
The Pink Floyd album The Wall was banned during the apartheid era due to the fact that the song "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" was used in a student uprising against propaganda in the education system.
In the mid-1990s, Korea banned tobacco smoking in Korean dramas. Later the ban was extended to all smoking on TV. If a character smokes in a movie shown on TV the cigarette will be pixellated.
South Korea doesn't really like Mash, because South Koreans are depicted as living in poverty, even though it's realistic: at the time of the Korean War and until The Seventies South Korea's GDP was smaller than that of Ghana.
In an attempt to protect family values, South Korea usually bans any song or music video that depicts sex or drug use. Examples of this include:
TVXQ's "Mirotic" was banned because of its "explicit lyrics". Said explicit lyrics consisted of "I got you under my skin". Subsequently, all albums featuring the song were deemed with an "inappropriate for minors" sign, and a clean version of the song was released, with its lyrics changed to "I got you under my sky".
Seung Ri's "Strong Baby" was banned from KBS for the use of the word "crack", which was later changed to "clap".
G-Dragon's album Heartbreaker was declared unsuitable for minors for its "inappropriate" lyrics. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, three songs suggested sex, drug use, and promoted an inappropriate vision of Korea.
During his first concert, G-Dragon unfortunately dry humped◊ one of his female back dancers. Problem is, there were minors in the audience. An investigation ensued, a fine was paid, and two versions of the concert DVD were released: one uncensored for adults only and one edited out for minors. See the detailed article here.
The boy band 2PM's song "Hands Up" used the line "Put your hands up and get your drinks up now", which was changed to "get your dreams up now" to avoid having the song banned from music programs.
Sistar's How Dare You suffered from a triple whammy. The video was banned from public broadcast because it featured pole dancing (really just dancing near a pole), KBS banned it for belittling lyrics (the "how dare you" which is directed to a cheating boyfriend) and another music show banned it for provocative choreography (unrelated to the pole dancing). The last two were circumvented by changing the lyrics and the choreography for performances on those stations.
South Korea is said to ban the sale of any game depicting fictional wars between North and South Korea. This includes Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 2 and Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. It has since lifted its ban on the Ghost Recon series as a way of promoting freedom of speech.
The most obvious case of banning is Homefront, where both Koreas are united under Northern rule.
Anime and Manga
According to Bulbapedia several episodes of Pokémon are banned. Not just the infamous Electric Soldier Porygon episode either. Some things relate to samurai outfits and items that bring up thoughts of the rocky history between South Korea and Japan. This might have more to do with the unusual trait of the show being adapted from the 4Kids Entertainment version instead of the Japanese original, though.
Over 40 episodes of Sailor Moon were cut and banned from broadcast, while all scenes involving the Hikawa Shrine (the shrine that Rei lives in with her grandfather) were excised, along with any scenes depicting Rei in her miko robes or that involved kanji. These changes were in part due to the unpleasant history between Japan and South Korea.
South Park had started to air on Tooniverse in March of 2000, but it barely got into its first season before the Republic of Korea Broadcasting Committee ordered it banned (due to numerous complaints about its content).
Modern Russian censorship is very lax, but back when Russia was known as The Soviet Union, it had an extensive Culture Police-type system that would make the current Chinese one say, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. That's too much!". Foreign films were graded particularly harshly; domestic films with the following might get past, depending on the situation. It was not uncommon for domestic films to be created, widely screened, and then censored or banned as well (like the 1930 epic Earth which was screened extensively and controversially before being censored).
Every movie made in the West and not specially approved for translation into Russian. Light-hearted French comedies were approved and translated with little or no fuss while something like Star Wars, on the other hand, was banned and bad-mouthed in newspapers for a long time.
Anything with sexual content that would make Boston's censors blush. Soviet film censors were very prudish (A notable exception was the very sexual Little Vera, a perestroika-era thriller).
Anything that showed religion as positive (as the USSR was atheist as hell and suppressed religion).
Anything showing America or another Western country in a positive light, though American works that trashed capitalism and democracy were more likely to be approved.
Due to the book's implicit criticism of collectivization and nationalism and its praise of individuality, the original Russian text of Doctor Zhivago was only available to Russian expatriates around the world until the collapse of the Soviet Union. The author, Boris Pasternak, was also forced to renounce the Nobel Prize In Literature under threat of him and his loved ones getting deported or worse.
The music of The Beatles was banned, but flourished on the black market. Ironically, "Back in the U.S.S.R." could not be legally played in the actual U.S.S.R.
During Stalin's time, the entire science of genetics was banned for being too capitalist because that's clearly how science works. Also, the fact that Gregor Mendel was a Catholic friar didn't jibe well with the U.S.S.R.'s atheism. Therefore, the Soviets invented the infamous pseudoscience Lysenkoism (basically Lamarckism with Marxist rhetoric), which caused the Soviet Union to fall behind the West in the field of biology as well as creating numerous famines. Lysenkoism was duly embraced by other communist countries, including Maoist China.
The only Shakespeare play to be banned in the Soviet Union was Hamlet during Stalin's government. Some sources claim this was because Hamlet was viewed as a tyrant (despite the fact that another character, like Hamlet's father, or another play, like Macbeth, would be a better target), while others claim that this was due to Hamlet’s indecisiveness. This was parodied by the writers of the foreword to the restored original Klingon version of the play.
Khamlet spends a positively un-Klingon amount of time talking about what he should do, rather than getting anything done. Most Klingons cannot make head or tail of this; in some parts of the hinterlands of the Empire, Khamlet has even been banned from performance, as liable to corrupt the youth.
Anime and Manga
Mazinger Z was aired in 1978 and it was pulled out off the air at January of 1979 due to the violent content prevalent in the show. Only thirty-three random episodes had been dubbed — one of which never even aired. It was not until 1993 that Spanish fans were able to watch the whole dubbed series.
Many books that depicted something against the very conservative values or the actual social situation of Franco's Spain were banned. One famous example was a book that had its Deadpan Snarker say in one chapter that "1952 has been a very good year. Madrid is so clean there aren't even any dogs around!". Realization hits you suddenly that the author is making an allusion to the famine that many people went through in 1952, where even dogs were considered food.
Saw VI was the first mainstream film to be rated X in Spain due to extreme violence, and therefore can't be showed in normal commercial theaters, only in approved X-rated cinemas. Disney (the ironic distributor) appealed against this decision but ultimately was forced to edit several violent scenes before a wide release could be allowed, ultimately pitting it against its own 3D sequel when it was released just weeks later. It's been speculated that the producers of a Spanish film that was to be released at the same time were responsible and that Saw VI was merely a rare victim of protectionism; it doesn't help that Spain usually happens to be pretty damn lax when it comes to censorship.
Luis Buńuel's Viridiana was banned because of its final scene, where the title character closes the door after her cousin enters the room and the film ends at that point. In the middle of the film, there was a parody of the Last Supper made by homeless people (with a blind man as Jesus) and a scene where Viridiana's uncle tried to rape her although he regretted trying to do it and later killed himself. This cost Buńuel his passport to Spain and the movie got out just because the actress Silvia Pinal managed to smuggle a copy into the Cannes Film Festival, where it was represented as an independent film because neither Spain nor Mexico wanted to represent the movie.
Sweden bans advertising directed to children. However, there were initially some difficulties with importing Pokémon due to the show's Merchandise-Driven nature (apparently, the show eventually passed muster).
The Thai government has banned nearly every rendition of Anna and the King of Siam and The King and I ever made because of the King of Siam, who is culturally seen as a divine being, is depicted as a flawed human being. What's worse is that no matter how the filmmakers rework the story, it always ends up getting banned in that country. The fundamental problem here is that no matter how respectfully and positively modern filmmakers may portray the King, the basic story still implies that Thailand is a backwards country filled with people who need someone from the West to civilize them.
The Economist is banned due to one of its writers insulting the Thai Royal Family and accusing it of abusing its power.
The video for Christina Aguilera's "Drrty" was censored in Thailand (and caused some minor controversy in America) due to Thai-language posters that read "Thailand's Sex Tourism" and "Young Underage Girls".
Thailand actively bans written works that criticize the Thai royal family, and under Thai law, authors that attack the Thai king are subject to imprisonment. This is evident in the jailing of an Australian novelist in 2008.
Depictions of smoking are censored on TV, such as on The Simpsons episode "New Kid on the Block," in which Bart "smokes" bubbles from a toy pipe while talking to Laura (yet the Treehouse of Horror story in which Bart and Lisa are British detectives out to find a prostitute killer did leave in every scene of people smoking opium — including the bizarre ending in which the events were a crazy opium hallucination as seen in Ralph Wiggum's mind).
Anime and Manga
Pokémon was temporarily banned after two children jumped off a balcony and broke their legs.
Any film depicting the Armenian genocide (which, according to the government, never happened), anything critical of the military, and any newspaper, book, or film made by an ethnic Kurd or Armenian can have its authors/creators charged under the article 301 of the penal code for insulting the Turkish identity. This is what happened to Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist based in Istanbul. He was murdered in 2007 for his views, and major uproar ensued. They might be getting ever so slightly better about this, as Atom Egoyan's Ararat was screened there, albeit with heavy edits, and amidst threats from nationalist groups.
Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac was banned for having lots of sex scenes, making it, in their opinion, more porn than art.
Turkey's mass censorship of Internet sites they don't like has reportedly been taken to the next level, threatening online journalists and imposing a system that will monitor it's peoples internet activity. Anonymous is launching one of its "hacktivism" attacks in response.
And now the internet filtration system is officially in place. The government says it's in place to protect children from viewing pornography, but it can (and probably will, as many protesting Turkish citizens fear) be used to censor anything the government doesn't want it's citizens viewing.
Additionally, Ukraine wants to ban SpongeBob SquarePants as it promotes homosexuality (even though the allegations of the show promoting homosexuality is a myth propagated by loony fans and conservative religious groups — at least in America).
United Arab Emirates
The Black Swan is banned for sexual themes considered too taboo for the country's sensibilities. It would have been released with cuts made, but Mohammad Naser, the UAE cinema censor, declared that there would be too much to cut and there's no point in showing a butchered film.
Spec Ops: The Line is banned for showing Dubai as a devastated city left to rot under massive sandstorms. Listening to the audio logs found in the game shows that the government of the UAE and Dubai ordered a media cover-up on the increasingly dangerous and powerful sandstorms, then fled once the sandstorms grew too intense. Unlike the other examples, which the ban only applies for registered retailers to desist selling those products via their local outlets (privately owning the game or buying it online aren't illegal), the NMC had extended their focus for this title going far as to issue the TRA to block the game's official website and subsequently stop the title's distribution throughout the rest of the GCC, as well as in Jordan and Lebanon.
Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas are both banned for containing "violence against Muslims." In the back story of the games (as established by earlier editions) the Middle East went to war with Europe leading to a nuclear exchange, though neither of the games themselves really point this out.
Noah is banned as it contradicts the Islamic teachings where Noah is considered one of the important prophets of Allah.
A commercial for Pot Noodle (a product line of instant noodles popular in Europe) that aired in the early 1990s depicted rapidly flashing images and colors set to the song "Ace of Spades". Similar to the "Electric Soldier Porygon" episode of the Pokemon anime, viewers were reported as having seizures from watching it, and then the ad was swiftly pulled.
The phrase 'video nasty' comes from a particularly censorship-happy time during the 1980s, where the BBFC banned pretty much every gory horror movie that came out. Some of these movies are still banned today, although in many cases that's just because they've never been re-submitted for a new certificate, which led to some odd decisions (such as the banning of the uncut version of the first Evil Dead film before 2001).
The BBC once parodied the phrase "video nasty" with its own series of programs on VHS, called "video tasties".
This Channel 4 documentary details the whole history of that movie's trouble with censorship in various places, including this gem from an interview with someone who'd had it banned in Harrogate:
Reporter: Now, you've not actually seen the film? Councillor: No, we haven't. Reporter: What reports have you had of it? Where have those reports come from? Councillor: The reports have come from the Festival of Light, and they have told us of the attitude of the American Catholic church and the American Jewish church.note It should be noted that, antisemitic conspiracy theories to the contrary, there is no such organisation as the American Jewish church and if there was it wouldn't be called the "church" anyway. Reporter: What do you know about the Festival of Light yourself? Councillor: Nothing.
The other wiki says the film was never banned; the whole thing is an urban legend. Hm.
The "urban myth" is that the film was banned in Aberystwyth: any local council in the UK has the power to ban a film from cinemas, even if the BBFC allows it.
For a while, any scenes that depicted ninja weapons, like shurikennote Japanese throwing stars and nunchakunote nunchucks (including Bruce Lee's iconic scene in Enter the Dragon) were censored.
The movie 1 Day has been banned (or so says its poster) in Birmingham for portraying gang warfare in said city.
The movie Mikey, the story of a psychopathic 9-year old boy who murders people, was banned due to the James Bulger murder and the fact that the protagonist being a child murderer that gets away with his crimes does not sit well with the BBFC. Re-releases of Hell of the Living Dead and Reservoir Dogs were also briefly held up in the aftermath, though home video classifications were finally bestowed upon Hell of the Living Dead in 2002 and Reservoir Dogs in 1995 (the latter following a theatrical re-release).
The film Freaks was banned for almost 30 years in the United Kingdom, because audiences were too shocked by some scenes in the film.
Until Stanley Kubrick's death in 1999 the film A Clockwork Orange (1971) was banned from distribution in the United Kingdom. Kubrick himself lived in England and reacted in horror to tales about copycat crimes and rapes inspired by the movie. In fear that he too might be visited by some lunatics, just like the writer in the film who lives in obscurity, he therefore banned his own work until his death. (Rather different from most of these examples: instead of a ban being imposed by a government entity, it was a content creator choosing to withdraw his own work from publication.)
The Human Centipede II was released Direct-to-Video (unlike other countries, where it saw a theatrical release if released at all) with 150 seconds of footage missing to remove sexualized violence and extreme gross out scenes.
The David CronenbergCrash film was banned by Westminster Council in London (whose territory covers the main West End cinemas) after a censorious campaign against it by Moral Guardians.
Since the retirement of James Ferman as head of the BBFC in 1999, the policy on banning movies in the UK has been relaxed considerably, and film-makers have to work quite hard to get the coveted 'banned in the UK' label. These days, the main modern reasons for banning or editing an imported movie are concentrated around animal torture, children in sexual situations or forced into doing sexual acts, scenes of dangerous actions that can easily be imitated by more dim-witted viewers or are glamorized as being "fun and risk-free"note particularly suicidal techniques, fight moves (with headbutts, ear claps, and neck-breaking the most popular ones edited), ingesting or preparing illegal drugs, and using household objects to make dangerous weapons, like aerosol spray flamethrowers, Molotov cocktails, and improvised explosive devices, anything that exploits or invades the privacy of people (Bum Fights: A Cause for Concern was banned for this reason), and graphic violence depicted as sexually alluringnote meaning no rapes or violent kinky stuff involving knives and erotic asphyxiation). Japanese film-maker Koji Shiraishi was prepared to go that extra mile, though, and seems to have offered Grotesque to the BBFC mostly in the hope of getting it banned, so he can gain some publicity. His quote when it was rejected was to say that he was "delighted and flattered by this most expected reaction from the faraway country, since the film is an honest conscientious work, made sure to upset the so-called moralists." Opinion is divided considerably as to who exactly is in the right on this one.
The Japanese torture-porn film Grotesque (2009):
"Unlike other 'torture' themed horror works, such as the Saw and Hostel series, Grotesque features minimal narrative or character development and presents the audience with little more than an unrelenting and escalating scenario of humiliation, brutality and sadism. In spite of a vestigial attempt to 'explain' the killer's motivations at the very end of the film, the chief pleasure on offer is not related to understanding the motivations of any of the central characters. Rather, the chief pleasure on offer seems to be wallowing in the spectacle of sadism (including sexual sadism) for its own sake."
The novel Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H Lawrence could not be published openly in the United Kingdom until 1961, owing to its explicit language and depiction of sex (and, it's been suggested, the fact that it depicts an affair between an aristocratic woman and a working-class man). In 1959, Penguin Books published a version and were immediately hit with prosecution under the then-recent Obscene Publications Act; the defence were able to call some of the most respected and admired scholars and critics of the day to testify on their behalf, and the prosecutor didn't do himself any favours when he asked the jury to consider whether the book was the kind “you would wish your wife or servants to read” — a rather condescending question which no doubt charmed the socks off the three women and any non-servant employing (i.e. lower class) people on the jury note It is said that one member of the House of Peers drily remarked that he wasn't concerned about his wife and servants reading it, but he didn't want it getting into the hands of his gamekeeper. The jury returned a “not-guilty” verdict, and the trial is often credited for the resulting relaxing of regulations for publishing explicit material in Britain.
Margaret Thatcher's government (who were touchy about the IRA, having been blown up by them as well as having several good friends killed by them) at one point banned any broadcasting of anything said by terrorists or their spokesmen. But as they couldn't actually go so far as to forbid the media to interview people, this led to a grotesque routine where a TV interviewer would ask a question of, say, Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein, and his reply would be dubbed over the picture, read out by an actor, deliberately out of synch with the movement of his lips so that everyone could see the law was being obeyed. This practice was satirised by The Day Today.
She also tried to ban the Thames Television documentary “Death on the Rock” when it suggested that the government may have unlawfully killed some IRA members. It didn't work, so she just mass-deregulated ITV and watched the company in question get outbid and replaced.
This practice was parodied in a radio episode of Dead Ringers, with John Humphries (from BBC Radio 4's Today programme, a highbrow breakfast programme) dubbed over when interviewing then-PM Tony Blair, as his questioning about the Iraq war was too scary to expose the politicians to.
The "IRA vs. Taliban" episode of Deadliest Warrior was the only one of said show not aired in the United Kingdom. Charlie Brooker did get away with showing the intro and an abridged fight sequence on You Have Been Watching, the final outcome of the fight being the question for his panellists. Incidentally, the IRA wins this particular game of militant five-a-side with a well-placed car bomb.
It was never officially banned, merely not shown out of sensitivity.
Once again for issues relating to The Troubles: the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The High Ground" was left out of the original BBC broadcast of the show because of Data mentioning that Ireland was reunited in 2024 after a successful "terrorist" campaign, in the context of a story based around a Fantastic Racism-based metaphorical version of Northern Ireland.
The first BBC broadcast of the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Miri" led to protests over its allegedly over-horrific nature, and as a result it and three later episodes ("Plato's Stepchildren", "The Empath" and "Whom Gods Destroy") were suppressed from BBC broadcasts of the show until the 1990s due to being considered excessively violent and horrific. (Although the BBC was happy to broadcast much worse scenes on its own show Doctor Who.)
Since the Jimmy Savile sex scandal in 2012, most of the memorials, organizations and archive footage featuring him have been removed, destroyed, or have been made unavailable to the general public.
The Wikipedia article for the Scorpions' album "Virgin Killer" — which featured a naked ten-year-old girl on the cover — was blacklisted and blocked by the Internet Watch Foundation in December 2008, since it was considered to be "potentially illegal" according to the Protection of Children Act 1978. After four days of blocking, this decision was reversed.
In May 2012, the UK's High Court ordered ISPs to block The Pirate Bay. However, it is rather simple to get around.
In 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron imposed infamous Internet filters that block out pornographic material. Or rather, what is detected to be pornographic—for instance, League of Legends came under a false alarm because some of its fileshave "sex" in their filenames. Subverted, in that the filters aren't mandatory, they're simply opt-out; a phone call to the ISP is all it takes to regain access to the (more-)unfiltered Internet.
A law introduced in April 2010 was thought to be banning anything that had a child participating in or near to sexual acts, but it was eventually tightened up to specifically only target lolicon and other works specifically made to be porn. People with DVDs of South Park or uncensored copies of Dragon Ball can breathe a sigh of relief.
A modern-day Urban Legend in the West Midlands says that music by Girls Aloud is banned from a School Disco at a school in Sandwell, West Midlands, for "Satanic influences on children" and "inducing nightmares in children". Whether it's censorship or not, well, no one can agree. There is doubt over the authenticity of the story, but it still circulates to this day, 6 years later.
Split Enz's Six Months In A Leaky Boat was censored by BBC Radio in 1982 due to Unfortunate Implications associated with the Falklands War. In fact, the song was about Captain Cook's voyages to New Zealand, and songwriter Tim Finn's grapple with depression.
Many punk bands, particularly the Sex Pistols, were refused radio play due to their then-shocking impact on the music scene or because they criticised the Queen in a song. The BBC effectively denied that The Sex Pistols' "God Save The Queen" was the number one hit of 1977.
During the Gulf War the BBC banned radio play of the song "Bloodsport for All" (a song about racism and bullying in the army) by Carter USM.
BBC Radio banned Frankie Goes To Hollywood's song "Relax" on 13 January 1984, only for it to blow up in their face when "Relax" raced to #1 on the charts two weeks later, and proceeded to stay there for five weeks. The sheer embarrassment forced the BBC to back down.
The BBC narrowly avoided doing the same with "Master and Servant" by Depeche Mode in the same year, as the one staffer who was in favour of censorship was away on vacation on the day the other staffers voted against censoring it.
The BBFC refused to give a rating to Manhunt 2, effectively banning the game since retailers require a rating to sell such items. This was the first such ban for a game in over a decade, and the courts eventually overturned the decision.
The BBFC also (initially) refused classification to Carmageddon because it glamorized vehicular homicide (the player could run over human pedestrians). However, a censored version rated 18 was released with zombies as the targets instead of humans. Later, the BBFC reversed their earlier decision to refuse classification to the uncensored version, resulting in its release.
Strong Bad Email #22 is an In-Universe example. A fan asks Strong Bad what he thinks of the English, and Strong Bad responds by making offensive comments against the British which get the email "banned in the UK."
The episode of Family Guy which promoted Microsoft Windows 7 was once banned from airing on the BBC due to guidelines in its charter which banned all product placement. These were relaxed in February 2011.
Very infamously, the Thatcher-era United Kingdom censored the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to make it "less violent." Mikey's nunchucks were digitally erased, and the word "ninja" was replaced with "hero" in the title. Laws have relaxed considerably since then, though, and the 2003 cartoon survived unchanged there.
For some reason, the movies also kept the original Ninja Turtles name, despite being released when the 1987 cartoon was still airing, but any scene with Michelangelo's nunchucks had to be cropped or blurred out, as the U.K. had (until 1999) a rule against showing weapons associated with ninjas (i.e., nunchucks, throwing stars, sais, and katanas).
Canadian-esque children's cartoon, Broomstick Cottage, first broadcast in 1990, had been refused from broadcast on British television, but even so, a lot of other countries saw it on TV, which is quite interesting...
The United States
Since about the 1960s-1970s, the federal courts been fairly consistent in interpreting the First Amendment as, essentially, a blanket prohibition on banning anything that isn't kiddie pornnote Which, by the way, means actual kiddie porn: not animated or drawn (Canadians take note) or includes an of-age actress whose breasts are too small for a judge's sensibilities (Australians take note). on the basis of its content. This means that when something is "banned" in the US, it tends to be on account of intellectual property rather than someone thinking it's immoral or obscene, although for certain types of item, it's safety concerns (foodstuffs regulated by the FDA) or just plain protectionism. The "Multimedia" section has further details. In general, though, the 'censoring' of a great majority of the following has nothing to do with the United States Federal or state governments, except that courts enforce private rights, which, as the below examples indicate, can result in works becoming unavailable.
4Kids Entertainment withheld three episodes of Pokémon in the US (and any country that imported their adaptation): the infamous Porygon episode (though, after what happened in Japan, this episode is pretty much wiped from existence in the eyes of the Pokemon franchise along with the tragically misblamed Porygon and its evolutions outside of the video games); "The Legend of Dratini", for excessive firearm use against a child; and "Beauty and the Beach," for scenes of James posing as a woman by using a pair of realistic, inflatable breasts (though that episode was shown only once or twice in America with parts cut).
The first Yu-Gi-Oh anime is an odd case. Fans commonly thought that it was skipped over by 4Kids for being too violent, but actually, it was because it was distributed by Toei rather than Studio Gallop- it was an entirely different series, and 4Kids would have had to license it separately if they'd wanted to show it, which wouldn't be worth it considering it's not part of the second show's continuity anyway. However, it did get a French dub.
Pororo the Little Penguin was thought to have been banned because some of the footage was animated by a North Korean animation company, but in fact there's a chance that it might make it to these United States after all, since it had been licensed before the embargo on North Korea was tightened in spring 2011, and the embargo allows for importation of products whose importation had been licensed before the tightened embargo. See for yourself. Ironically, that doesn't stop Samsung from using Pororo in their Smart TV covers, even in the United States.note Of course they weren't. Firstly, the ban only applies to shows produced in North Korea after 2005. Furthermore, Pororo is a South Korean Production, meaning anything Pororo made in South Korea is still allowed into the US. And oh, Samsung is probably a sponsor of the show, given they also use The Pororo Dance music video as one of the clips on their demo DVDs and blu-rays.
Once Traci Lords' real age became known, all the films she'd made before her 18th birthday became child porn. This includes the notorious issue of Penthouse Magazine in which actress/singer/Miss America winner Vanessa Williams had a nude pictorial published (with Lords as the centerfold), which got her stripped of her title as Miss America.
Adrien Brody managed to temporarily block the US release of Giallo over a pay dispute. The matter has since been settled and the film was eventually released.
Titicut Follies, a documentary about a mental ward, was banned from public release for several decades because the state of Massachusetts thought the film infringed on the privacy of the patients in the film, though the real problem was that Wiseman showed how the state of Massachusetts treated the mentally ill in its care (suffice it to say, they were not treated well). It remains one of the most embarrassing moments in free speech in the US, but weirdly, the ban had a positive effect: the state of Massachusetts was forced to acknowledge people had a right to privacy on the state level.
Song of the South is not officially banned, but is rather more-or-less withheld by the Disney company for two reasons. First, while ostensibly set in the Reconstruction South, the film contains scenes of happy African-American workers in the fields that suggest Happiness in Slavery; the narrator is an apparent house servant reading stories to children. Second and more importantly, the film is an anthology of Uncle Remus stories. Apart from over-the-top dialect, the stories Disney chose were inoffensive...but the other Uncle Remus stories were hideously racist. As a result, the film hasn't been released in its entirety in the U.S. since 1986. The film has been released uncut, on video, in Europe, South America, Japan, Hong Kong, and Mexico however.
The film's iconic song, Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, is occasionally released on its own, was a part of the Disney Sing-A-Long video collection in the days of VHS tapes, became somewhat of a Disney anthem after Splash Mountain (a ride based on the Brer Rabbit shorts from the movie), and the song even made it into the Disney play, "Alice in Wonderland Jr."
The ban was parodied in Saturday Night Live's TV Funhouse sketch "The Disney Vault", with a secret version that was more racist.
Nosferatu was banned back in the 1920s following legal action from the Bram Stoker estate, and all prints were destroyed except for a few lucky prints smuggled to safety by collectors. After Dracula fell into the public domain, the film was distributed widely, possibly for the first time ever.
The Tin Drum was banned for a short time in Oklahoma County due to being considered obscene. Naturally, this only increased interest in the film until the ban was ordered lifted via an injunction.
A broad obscenity sting in Orange County, Florida, managed to claim Pink Flamingos, among other films.
The Battle Royale film went unreleased in the US for several years after its 2000 release. The owners of the film wanted a wide release on the scale of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, something no American distributor was prepared to offer given the plot and content of the film. A limited release finally appeared in 2011, followed soon after by a home media release.
A lot of pre-Code films were banned by the Catholic Legion of Decency and the Motion Picture Association of America between 1934 and 1968, including the first film adaptation of The Maltese Falcon. They were only unbanned after the ratings system supported by then-MPAA leader Jack Valenti came into place, though it would be years before they ever got released Stateside again, mainly due to practicality issues.
After the furor over Friday the 13th, the MPAA started banning horror movies by slapping X ratings left and right, with extreme prejudice. This is part of the reason why the X rating was eventually replaced; the '80s saw an unprecedented spike in X-rated movies because of Friday the 13th, and though Videodrome and Angel Heart were released in their X-rated versions when first released on home video, many still remain unreleased in their uncut versions to this day, and only in later years have the X-rated versions of some of these movies even appeared on home video at all. In fact, a lot of X-rated and NC-17-rated movies even today can be considered this due to the problems involved in even booking them for theatrical runs and only get released uncut on home video, though even then there are some problems (for example, shortly after the NC-17 rating came to be, Valenti accused Blockbuster of attempting to cause a Chilling Effect against the aforementioned ratings system over the NC-17 rating).
The Kinder Surprise Eggs are famous for being banned in the United States, due to a law from the late 1930's that forbid non nutritional content in foods. Averted in March 2013 with the release of a similar product called Choco Treasure Eggs.
The Wonderball, a similar product produced in the United States (only with stickers instead of actual toys) ran afoul of the same law.
4 Loko, in its original formulation, due to the combination of alcohol and caffiene. It has since been reinstated, once 4 Loko's makers reduced the amount of caffeine.
The FDA has earned the ire of dairy lovers across America on account of its insistence that milk be pasteurized even for such things as the production of cheeses and yogurt. Proponents of raw milk argue that raw milk tastes better and is better for you, and that dairy products made from the stuff aren't even dangerous. The FDA doesn't comment on taste, but argues that the risk to public health is great enough to continue the requirement.
We should note that there is a fine demonstration of federalism here: twenty-eight states do not ban raw milk sales, but the Feds ban the transportation of raw milk and raw milk products across state lines, meaning that you have to live in the state where the farmer is in order to sample the raw product. This is classic application of the Commerce Clause.
British (and some other European countries') beef is banned in the USA because the FDA (the regulatory agency overseeing beef in the marketplace) still has grave concerns over the risk of "Mad Cow" disease. American beef producers have a stringent set of guidelines they need to follow, so their beef is fine for consumption. It is assumed that the same can be said for all North American beef production, because it has direct relevance to blood donation standards in the United States. Canadians and Mexicans are allowed to donate blood, but anyone who lived in Europe (including Great Britain) for a year or more is not allowed to donate blood. This is directly related to beef production standards there that aren't considered as stringent (by the American Red Cross, which sets the blood donation standards in the U.S.) as those in North America.
For similar reasons as European beef, Japanese beef cannot be imported into the US. This means any "Kobe" beef you buy in the United States is actually "Kobe-style". It's from the same breed of cow, but it's not from Kobe, Japan.
Many fine chocolates from Europe are not allowed to be exported into the United States without relabeling because they are technically not chocolate due to the FDA's incredibly strict definition of chocolate.
The sale and importation of lawn darts in the United States has been banned since 1988 due to children being injured or killed.
Magnetic toys have been subject to bans and recalls in the United States due to choking hazards. Magnetix toys have been recalled in 2006, and Buckyballs (little magnetic balls that can be molded into larger shapes) have been recalled in 2012.
When Pokémon: The First Movie was released, Burger King sold Pokemon toys in their kids' meals that came in plastic Pokeballs. After hearing a report that an unsupervised infant suffocated on one of the Pokeball halves, the Pokeballs were recalled, complete with a mass campaign that included television ads encouraging parents to dispose of the Pokeball toys or return them to Burger King restaurants.
Similar to the case of Kubrick and A Clockwork Orange, Stephen King has chosen to forbid reprints of his novel Rage - it depicts a teenaged gunman menacing a high school and King was horrified when an actual school shooter was found with the novel in his possession.
A Series of Unfortunate Events: Daniel Handler was hoping for some of this, and was disappointed in how little it happened. His one real "victory" was that the books were banned from a school in Georgia due to Olaf's plan to marry his distant relative Violet in book one, to which he responded "I'm at a loss as to how to write a villain who doesn't do villainous things."
One episode of Mash in-universe featured the protagonists attempting to get their hands on The Moon Is Blue, a film so racy that it was banned in Boston. The movie itself was disappointing: the Moral Guardians had overreacted and the most inappropriate part of the film was a character saying the word "virgin".note The Moon is Blue was the first mainstream film since the enactment of the Hays Code to use the word "virgin", as well as the words "seduce", "mistress" (in a sexual context), and "pregnant"; it was, however, less the language and more the characters' casual attitude toward sexual topics which roused the ire of the censors. The "virgin" thing is probably also a reference to an instance much earlier in M*A*S*H's run when the CBS censors wouldn't let them say the word "virgin". Of course, they had been warned by the Boston native Major Winchester, who pointed out that Boston would banPinocchio.
Utah's NBC affiliate KSL-TV is owned by Bonneville International, a company controlled by the LDS Church. As such, the station has a history of being run by Moral Guardians who pull programs which they feel may be too offensive; these shows usually get picked up by the local CW affiliate instead (who also picks up preempted NBC programming during the biannual LDS General Conference, which gets a News Monopoly on any LDS-affiliated broadcast outlet).
When it was with CBS, KSL pulled Picket Fences after an episode involving a Mormon who still believed in polygamy, despite it being disavowed by the church in 1890. Polygamy is a very controversial issue in the Mormon faith.
It also never aired Saturday Night Live for the majority of its time with NBC, but not because of objectionable content; it elected to keep its popular, long-running sportscast SportsBeat Saturday (a holdover from its days with CBS). SNL aired on the local CW affiliate instead, whose manager proudly enjoyed the coup.
Quite a few of the NBC shows KSL has censored ended up getting cancelled; it refused to air NBC's late-night poker programming (cancelled after their sponsors got shut down by the government), Coupling (cancelled after four episodes after poor viewership and reviews. It also got censored by WNDU, then owned by Notre Dame University), The Playboy Club (cancelled after three episodes after poor reviews, making it the quickest cancellation in KSL history. They did not want to associate itself with Playboy since it runs an education campaign against porn addiction).
As KSL got back one NBC fixture, out went another. In September 2013, they punted Days of Our Lives to the late-night hours for no apparent reason. While yes, its true that daytime soaps are an endangered species, the show's storyline was starting to involve gay relationships.
Another station known for refusing to air certain shows is WRAZ-TV, a Fox affiliate which covers the Raleigh-Durham area in North Carolina. It's more or less run by Moral Guardians who are very hostile towards programming they consider to be "anti-family", so reality shows like Temptation Island, Who Wants To Marry A Multimillionaire, Married In America, Osbournes Reloaded, and Who's Your Daddy? were either heavily pre-empted or not aired at all. Much like KSL's curse, most of these shows (aside from Temptation Island) got cancelled pretty quickly.
It was found out that PBS refused to screen two documentaries note Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream, and Citizen Koch, centered around the controversial Koch Brothers since they were the biggest funding source of the channel. The discovery set the various social media sites ablaze. Also, Stephen Colbert had a field day with the controversy on The Colbert Report.
WSET in Virginia pulled an episode of Once And Again that contained a lesbian kiss, and replaced it with an infomercial. The station provided no official explanation, but a few critics did react to the decision.
In-universe example from 30 Rock: "Liz, do you know how hard it was growing up gay in Methenberg, Pennsylvania? The local TV station edited Will and Grace down so much that it was just called Karen."
A Masterpiece Theatre serial, titled "Private Schulz", is banned because trying to make the Nazi-run extermination camps funny is not funny. And yet, Life Is Beautiful, another dramedy set in the extermination camps, was released in theatres and on video and is even shown on television from time to time.
The controversial docudrama The Path to 9/11 is not officially banned, but it might as well be. Created to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the TV film was attacked by left-wing pundits and politicians for allegedly blaming the attacks wholly on the Clinton administration (defenders of the film argue it trashes Clinton and Bush equally). In the end, Disney bowed to political pressure and aired the film only once (with edits) before shelving it indefinitely. A documentary about the incident, Blocking the Path to 9/11, was released two years later, but the original movie is now resting in the Disney archives next to Song of the South.
Thanks to an explicit constitutional ban on censorship, the only out and out "bans" of works in the United States seem to be because of sexual material involving some under the age of 18. Then there's intellectual property; the Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it illegal to distribute material with its DRM removed, or tell people how to remove DRM, or tell people how to find sites telling you how to remove DRM. It also gives a safe harbor to "online service providers" that protects them from liability for the inadvertent copyright infringing actions of its users, as long as they take down content as requested by its owners, hence all the takedown notices.
As of this writing in 2010, the states of Louisiana and Georgia ban sexually explicit material. However, even this restriction may not be constitutional, since Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition in 2002 ruled that even simulated child porn doesn't count as obscene as long as there's no actual child being harmed. That said, a lot of sexually explicit games are voluntarily not imported, and if they are brought to the U.S. they're likely to get an Adults Only rating, preventing them from being stocked at major retailers like Wal-Mart (there have been a number of more general bans, particularly on video games, but they tend to rapidly get declared unconstitutional). The Protect Act of 2003 seems to have banned it again, though mere child nudity is not enough; to truly be illegal, simulated child porn has to be declared legally obscene.
The Church of Scientology has been especially active in employing this avenue of silencing its critics, if the decade-long debacle over The Profit (which started with the Church obtaining an injunction against the film over fears of the film prejudicing the jury pool in the Lisa McPherson wrongful death suit against the Church and continues today due to a legal dispute with one of the film's producers) is any indication. Such battles have the intention of creating what is called a Chilling Effect, or willing self-censorship in regards to a particular medium. It has been somewhat successful as well.
All of the music videos by Australian grindcore band The Berzerker were banned (or simply unaired) by MTV due to their horrific and possibly seizure-inducing imagery. Several other countries have banned their videos as well.
The Kinks were banned from performing in America from 1965 to 1969 because their concerts got too rowdy. Many, including The Kinks themselves, believe this ban actually stemmed from a dispute the band was having with the American Federation of Musicians at that time.
Skinny Puppy's "Worlock" video was banned from broadcast and commercial distribution due to its unauthorized use of deleted gory footage from various horror films.
While stage censorship in New York during the earlier 20th century was never as strict as The Hays Code, a law was passed banning plays about "sex degeneracy or sex perversion." Affected dramas included Mae West's The Drag and The Pleasure Man.
Nintendo of America is well known for its extreme use of censorship. They could go far with that, which is one of the reasons why the SNES version of Socks The Cat Rocks The Hill, a video game featuring political satire, was witheld from its North American release.
The arcade game Sonic Blast Man was pulled from several arcades after a class action lawsuit due to several cases of children injuring themselves. Admittedly the "Physically punch the pad as hard as you can to score points" gameplay probably could have used a rethink (Can anyone imagine some kid not trying to score big by just running at it full steam?)
The infamous PS1 fighting game Thrill Kill was cancelled because: 1) The developer Virgin Interactive merged with EA Games when nearing release, and EA would not allow a game like that to be released, 2) The game got an AO (Adults Only) rating from the ESRB (for those wondering, 99% of retailers refuse to carry AO rated games), and 3) Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft refuse to allow release of AO games on their consoles.
The PS2 and Wii versions of Manhunt 2 temporarily suffered from this, due to being given the forbidden AO rating from the ESRB, until they were censored enough for an M rating. The PC version was released uncut.
The Guy Game was an M/AO triva game where if the player got the answer right the on screen girl would take off her top. Problem was that later one of the models lied about her age and was actually 17 at the time of the the shots. So the game is technically child porngrarphy, and all copies were taken off the shelf and destroyed at no real lost.
A lot of Golden Age cartoons from Warner Bros., Disney, and MGM have been banned from airing due to racist depictions of minority groups (particularly black people, Mexicans, Jewish people, Chinese, and Japanese), sexism (mostly in the form of showing women as objects of lust), or anything that now causes Values Dissonance (most notably their wartime cartoons). Warner Bros. even has a collection of cartoons called the Censored Eleven, which have been banned from ever airing on TV since 1968, due to pervasive black stereotyping (though most, if not all, of them have received unofficial home video releases, particularly those for which the previous copyright holders didn't bother renewing the copyright). Most of the cartoons that have been banned are available on bootleg and legitimate DVD releases note (the ones on legitimate DVD releases do usually (but not always) have warnings stating that the cartoons were made back when the Hays Office only cared about erasing anything deemed sexual or rude and didn't care much about what people would think about the racism and sexism — and the World War II cartoons were just made to rally the country into fighting, and the best way to do that in any country is to demonize anyone who could be a threat to the country's way of life) and online.
The Family Guy episode "Partial Terms of Endearment" has not (and probably will never) air on American television [Fox outright stated that the episode will not air and Cartoon Network decided not to air it either], as it contains a lot of talk, discussion, and jokes about abortion. Europe and Canada have aired the episode, and it has been released in America as a DVD-exclusive episode with scenes that the European and Canadian versions never aired.
The South Park episodes "200" and "201" have aired only once and large parts of it have been censored, including the image of the prophet Muhammad and the entire dialogue from the end speech by Kyle and Jesus. To this day, the creators are not allowed to discuss what the network actually censored from the dialogue and there's no chance of ever seeing these episodes uncut and uncensored (not even on Internet video).
Under Hugo Chavez Administration, whenever there is a series that depicts something that the government doesn't like was quickly excised or forbidden to rebroadcast on open air networks. The most noticeable case was the Colombian soap opera Chepe Fortuna, because or a subplot concerning two middle-aged sisters, Colombia and Venezuela. Colombia is an industrious, honest, long suffering lady, while Venezuela is a Fat Bastard of a woman who believes herself to be gorgeous, constantly gets into ill-fated Get Rich Quick Schemes and has an excessive love for her tiny doggienamed Hugo. All of this Played for Laughs (and it was Actually Pretty Funny). Because the Chavez government got very offended for what they perceived was the mocking of the country sovereignty, the thing didn't got a full week on air, and made the already fragile relationship between the countries even worse.
Not even Sony dared to broadcast Parks and Recreation's infamous episode "Sister City" (which dealt with a very point-on parody of Venezuelan military government officers) on its Venezuelan feed, and its very improbable that the series even airs on open networks.
All video games that include any killer violence had been banned since 2010. Averted with the sequel to Mercenaries, even though it came under fire from the Venezuelan government, which apparently considered it a propaganda piece directed against the Hugo Chavez administration.
Platoon was banned in Vietnam for having the American soldiers destroy a village.
The Hunger Games is also banned in that country for showing youth violence, though the ban has more to do with Vietnam not being happy with a film that shows youngsters fighting back against a totalitarian state.
This would also happen to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, though the decision was more the idea for Sony's international distribution company, who protested against Vietnam's censors cutting out the nude scenes.
The Interpreter was banned due to it's subject matter being considered "insensitive" by the government.