"Cry tears of joy for yourself, Argentina, because there’s a warrant out for Justin Bieber’s arrest in your country and so he may never go back again. You’re the luckiest country in the world! Let’s all pack up our shit, learn the lyrics to “Buenos Aires” so we can sing it when we get off the train and head to Ar-hen-tina! Argentina is the new Biebs-free wonderland!"Sometimes the government can outright ban a work from being consumed in their country. It usually happens in very authoritarian countries whose governments try to micromanage what their citizens can see. But even in more liberal countries, public pressure on retailers or broadcasters can lead to an effective ban on the work (although sometimes — but not always — you can get around it by importing it from somewhere else). Works that get this treatment tend to be excessively violent or sexual in nature, criticize or mock the country or its government, or otherwise depict behavior that might undermine the government's authority. The more authoritarian and paranoid the government, the more works get censored. This kind of thing is often associated with the government of the People's Republic of China, hence the name "Banned in China". But the trope name is actually a modern twist on the older term, "Banned in Boston" — the city was once a bastion of Moral Guardians, particularly given the Puritan and Catholic influence, and a local "benevolent group" known as the Watch and Ward Society held immense sway over what could be displayed or sold in the city. Nowadays, Boston is considered a bastion of liberal politics in the US. China has taken up the city's mantle, given its frequent (and often arbitrary) censorship of anything it finds contrary to government policy or "harmful to the Chinese youth". Compare New Media Are Evil, No Swastikas, Media Watchdog, and Moral Guardians. Bowdlerization can happen if the government requires substantial content editing before allowing the work to be imported.
— Michael K., "Don't Cy for Beebs, Argentina"
Countries with their own pages:
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The Taliban was notorious for banning any work of art, considering it contrary to the values of their particular brand of Islam. At its worst, from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban banned all television sets, movies, and non-religious music.
- The 1985 French film Hail Mary, which is a modern retelling of the Virgin Birth, was banned for mixing sexual content with religious content. Argentina's large Catholic population in particular considered this sort of thing blasphemous.
- The rape simulator RapeLay is the only video game banned in Argentina, as it is seen to condone or glamorize sexual violence.
- The season 19 Simpsons episode "E Pluribus Wiggum", although nominally about Ralph Wiggum being written in as a candidate for U.S. President, was banned in Argentina for a side conversation that made fun of Argentina. Specifically, Lenny and Carl call Juan Peron the country's best leader because "when he 'disappeared' you, you stayed 'disappeared'!" and equate Peron's wife Evita with the singer Madonna (who did play her in a film adaptation of the musical Evita). Many other Latin American countries followed suit, taking it as a mockery of their culture as a whole. This kind of thing never stopped The Simpsons, though, which appears several more times on this page for similar reasons.
Anime and Manga
The following examples failed to make the cut even after the R18+ rating was introduced, proving that even R18+ has standards.
- Magical DoReMi was banned after the end of the second season for "sexual themes" present in later episodes.
- 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. By law, the OFLC must classify a film before it can be sold or exhibited in any form in Australia, although it is legal to own most material that has been refused classification.
- 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.
- It has come under fire for cracking down on films with a strong LGBT theme, including Mysterious Skin, whose ban sparked protests from Australian LGBT groups.
- Gory films like Cannibal Holocaust and Faces of Death have also seen at least their initial releases banned; only extensive editing could get them a classification.
- The first series of Nine Network's Underbelly was banned by judicial order in the state of Victoria (including Melbourne) and from the Internet. One of the show's real-life subjects was involved in an ongoing criminal trial, and there were serious concerns over jury tampering. Even after the conviction, the court forced the network to heavily edit the episodes.
- Cold Chisel's "Khe Sanh" was originally banned from radio in every state except South Australia for presenting a less-than-flattering picture of Australian treatment of Asian immigrants.
- The Peppa Pig episode "Spider's Web" was banned in Australia. It's about befriending spiders, which is highly discouraged in Australia because it's home to some of the world's most venomous spiders. It was accidentally aired online, though.
- Originally there was no R18+ rating for video games, so any game which was too much for the MA15+ rating would either be refused classification or just be heavily edited. As with film, refusal of classification was tantamount to a ban. The R18+ rating would be introduced in 2013, which allowed Australian releases of the Mortal Kombat reboot and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge; however, the ratings board can still refuse a classification.
- What started as a rumor turned out to be entirely true: Fallout 3 was refused classification entirely because of the depiction of a static image of morphine as a buff-giving item. It would later be released as 15+ after a worldwide edit to remove the image.
- Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude was unrated due to its strongly suggestive content, concerning a Casanova Wannabe trying to get laid by college co-eds.
- Left 4 Dead 2 was refused classification on its original release due to excessive violence — based on the German version, which was edited for an even stricter market. When the R18+ rating was introduced, the original uncensored version would be given this rating.
- Manhunt and Postal are banned due to their violence, themes, and behavior.
- Aliens vs. Predator (2010) was originally banned, but it was re-rated MA15+ after appeal and left uncut. The irony is that this is now the most lenient rating the game has in any country.
- The Mortal Kombat reboot (nicknamed Mortal Kombat 9 by fans) was banned in Australia when there was no rating higher than MA15+, and customs were ordered to seize copies. But once the "Komplete Edition" was released, the R18 rating was introduced, and it became the very first game in Australia to be released with an R18 rating.
- Singles: Flirt Up Your Life was banned for its high sexual content that would have been too much for the MA15+ rating.
- Silent Hill: Homecoming had to have some of the Cruel and Unusual Death scenes toned down to pass OFLC classification. The same censored version was released in Germany.
- Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure was banned due to its depiction of graffiti artists.
The following examples failed to make the cut even after the R18+ rating was introduced, proving that even R18+ has standards.
- Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number was banned because of an implied rape scene, despite the fact that this particular scene could be turned off in the options menu. Because they felt that it was a vital part of the story, Dennaton Games opted to accept the ACB's opinion and instead told Australian fans to just pirate it.
- Saints Row IV was banned for containing "interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context" (referring 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). The game later got a MA release by removing the mission centered on drugs — but not the anal probe weapon, which is still in the game as DLC, which led to accusations of Skewed Priorities.
- 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 banned for depicting drug use as health and stamina power-ups, but it was later re-submitted and re-classified R18+ after the drugs were changed to "vitamins".
- While not involving the government in any way, Target chose to not sell the XBOX One and PS4 versions of Grand Theft Auto V after outcry over the series allowing the player to kill prostitutes.
- Gal*Gun: Double Peace and Senran Kagura: Estival Versus were pulled from EB Games' stores and website due to their highly sexualized gameplay, though both did manage to receive R18+ ratings completely uncensored from the classification board.
- Australian Labor Party senator Stephen Conroy, since out of power, 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.
- Encyclopedia Dramatica's page on Aborginals is apparently blocked on Australian search engines.
- All Quiet on the Western Front was banned in both Austria and Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945 for its anti-war and perceived anti-German messages.
- 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 from the start, as being a self-admitted apolitical he had already removed the offending material.
- Any film that depicts Armenians in any positive light is banned. This even includes a film by Azeri director Eldar Guliev entitled Hostage, which depicts an Armenian hostage in the Nagorno-Karabakh War in a human light. This is because since Azerbaijan lost that war, the demonization of Armenians has become state policy.
- Anything not in the Azeri language, including Russian and even Turkish programming was banned from television in 2009. Russian was common as Azerbaijan used to be part of the Soviet Union, and Turkish is very similar to Azeri anyway, so a lot of TV was in those languages; the government felt that this would undermine the prevalence of Azeri language and culture.
Bangladesh has been known to prevent the release of certain works not in the Bengali language. Much of what it imports comes through neighboring India, and much of that is made or dubbed in Hindi; the government wanted to fend off the growing influence of the Hindi language in Bangladesh. In particular, Doraemon couldn't be shown on television unless it was dubbed in Bengali.
- Black Swan was temporarily banned due to the lesbian sex scene 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.
- Herman Brusselmans, a writer who regularly pokes fun at Flemish celebrities in a degrading and largely inaccurate manner, sparked a controversy when one of his victims, fashion designer Ann Demeulemeester, convinced a court to ban his novel Guggenheimer Wast Witter in 1999. Belgians were outraged at what they saw as preventive censorship with no chance for the author to really defend himself; they circumvented the ban by importing the book from the Netherlands. In 2011, former Belgian Prime Minister and then-EU governor Herman van Rompuy introduced an EU-wide law preventing this sort of judicial order, which led to the ban being overturned.
- In 2005, Madonna's song ""Frozen"" was banned in Belgium over a copyright dispute; composer Salvatore Acquaviva claimed she had plagiarized it from a few bars of his song "Ma vie fout le camp". Then another composer, Edouard Scotto di Suoccio, claimed that both songs were plagiarized from a song he composed in 1983. A Belgian court sorted through the mess in 2014, determined that none of the songs were "sufficiently original" to even plagiarize, and lifted the ban on "Frozen".
Bhutan is a very isolated country in the Himalayas with an old and distinctive culture, and as such, it has taken great measures to limit or eliminate foreign influences in the country, including in media. Even Western clothes and Professional Wrestling are considered corrupting influences there.
- In 1994, the Brazilian government banned Beyond Citizen Kane, a documentary created by Simon Hartog critical of Brazilian media Mega Corp. Globo; it even compared Globo's owner with the fictional Charles Foster Kane. Globo has been accused of pressuring the government to ban it. The only way to really see it was to be a member of a university club which had a pirated copy — until the Internet made it to Brazil, at which point the controversy had shed enough light on media ethics that Globo's reputation had somewhat improved in the meantime.
- In 1997 and 1998, the original Grand Theft Auto and the two Carmageddon games were banned because they glamorized car theft and vehicular homicide.
- In 1999, a shootout at a São Paulo movie theater closely resembled the first level of Duke Nukem 3D. The game was banned for that reason. Five other games were banned at the same time to prevent widespread violence (Doom, Mortal Kombat, Requiem Avenging Angel, Blood, and Postal). (The movie being shown during the shooting, Fight Club, was not banned.)
- Counter-Strike was briefly banned from Brazil in 2008 because of a popular map mod called “Rio”, modeled loosely after the city of Rio de Janeiro. Authorities claimed that the map was part of the story and involved the player, with a team of drug dealers, holding UN peacekeepers hostage and shooting Brazilian military police. This ignores the fact that (a) the map is not part of the game at all, but rather a third-party unofficial mod, which is not controlled by the game; (b) you can play as either side; and (c) the "drug dealers" are really international terrorists, and the "military police" is some generic counter-terrorist force. When the government realized this (due largely to public outcry), it lifted the ban.
- Everquest was banned 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, as Steam will not sell the game (or any package that contains it) in Brazil.
- 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 public outcry led the government to ban it. Several scenes mercilessly made fun of the country — multicolored rats run through the slums, an old peddler distracts Homer while her children pick his pocket, and Bart watches a Brazilian kids' show with a lot of sexual innuendo and scantily-clad actresses. It would be years before FOX could even include it on the season 13 DVD box set there.
- A regional judge ordered all telephone operators in Brazil to block WhatsApp, the most popular messaging app in the country, for failing to turn over data as part of an ongoing drug trafficking investigation. The block was lifted some days after.
- 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 was.
- For starring as Aung San Suu Kyi, then the main opposition leader and a political prisoner, in a biographical movie, Malaysian-born actress Michelle Yeoh was banned from entering Burma.
- The Simpsons Movie was banned in Burma mostly because most of the characters' skin is yellow, and yellow and red were the colors of the main political opposition party, the NLD.
- The movie No Escape was banned in Cambodia because the language the police officers used was an altered version of Khmer, thus potentially identifying the film's unnamed country (then undergoing a very violent coup) as Cambodia.
- Canadian federal law considers material depicting any sexual activity by any character under 18 as child pornography, whether drawn or live-action. Although there is a clause excluding material with an "artistic purpose", the line isn't very clearly defined. Furthermore, the age of consent in Canada is 16, meaning that it is entirely possible for material to be banned because it depicts an otherwise legal sexual act involving a character between 16 and 18 years old.
- Canada's national customs authority has this reputation for being homophobic bluenoses; it used court rulings about material depicting "violence against women" as somehow encompassing male gay erotica.
- Oddly, the influence of Moral Guardians causes a frequent inversion of this trope. Canadian private broadcasters self-regulate through the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council; this entity can easily bow to pressure to refuse to air certain content. The state broadcaster, the CBC, does not participate in this scheme, and they can thus get away with more than the private networks can. (It and other public broadcasters are directly regulated by the CRTC.)
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex's tenth episode, "Jungle Cruise", was skipped by YTV due to its graphic content on the show's first rotation (particularly, a serial killer who skins his victims alive and plugs his eyes into them so they can watch themselves being killed). However, due to angry fan response, it was later played in a marathon of episodes, and on the show's second run, albeit with a special disclaimer that the level of violence was above the usual level for something allowed on YTV.
- Caligula was banned on its initial release for being particularly sexually explicit.
- Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho was banned when it was first released.
- TV Ontario refused to broadcast the Doctor Who story "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" after Chinese-Canadian groups who were given precautionary test screenings were angered by its Yellow Peril content.
- 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 home of the series' star, Leslie Nielsen.
- The album version of Dire Straits' song "Money For Nothing" on Brothers in Arms was temporarily banned from commercial broadcast in Canada in 2011 for its use of the word "faggot". The ban was rescinded after being widely mocked; 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. (It also was a little late to be getting upset over the song, it having been recorded in 1985).
- The gratuitously gory Soldier of Fortune was classified as an "adult movie" in Canada, as was Manhunt and its sequel.
- The Postal franchise was banned outright.
- The 1939 Looney Tunes cartoon "Thugs With Dirty Mugs" was banned back then in Winnipeg, Manitoba, because of a joke near the end of the cartoon where a criminal declares himself to be "a naughty little boy". The censors felt this ending was "not sincere and just an excuse to show criminal activity."
- 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.
- The 1954 Bugs Bunny short "Bewitched Bunny", which ends with Bugs transforming Witch Hazel into a lady bunny with a more feminine voice but retaining Hazel's Evil Laugh, was banned by the National Film Board for Bugs' closing Breaking the Fourth Wall line "Ah sure, I know. But aren't they all witches inside?", being perceived as misogynistic. The ban was lifted three days later, but the line was edited out of later broadcasts in the 1980s and replaced with "Sure uh, I know. But after all, who wants to be alone on Halloween?" The edited version has since ceased airing, having been replaced by the original version.
- Back in 1930 the Disney cartoon The Skeleton Dance was banned for being too "macabre".
- There is an urban legend about Donald Duck being banned in Finland, because he does not wear pants. It's not true, and it's particularly amusing because Finland is so liberal with actual nudity that it could be the least likely country in the world to enact such a ban. As Snopes details, the legend derives from a complete misunderstanding of a 1977 political blunder; Helsinki councilman Markku Huolopainen had proposed that the financially troubled city stop buying Donald Duck comics for youth centres, but when he ran for Parliament the next year, his opponent spun this into trying to "ban" Donald Duck (and went on to beat him in the election). Some Finns did write letters to the Donald Duck magazine on the subject decades earlier, but the magazine put it to rest by publishing a picture of a ridiculous-looking duck with pants.
- Freaks, Faces of Death, and Cannibal Holocaust were all banned on initial release.
- 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.
Anime and Manga
- The manga Kinnikuman was banned in France because it contains a heroic swastika-bearing character. The anime saw a limited release, but only 49 out of the 137 original episodes were shown on television.
- 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.
- For 200 years or so, women were forbidden to wear trousers in Paris due to a law implemented during The French Revolution. Marlene Dietrich, an avid wearer of trousers herself, was threatened with a ban by the mayor for wearing them. The law was gradually relaxed over the years in use for riding horses and bicycles, and enforcement stopped a long time ago, but it was only officially repealed in 2013.
- For three decades, no black and white film could be colorized in France, and no existing colorized version could be distributed there, without permission of the copyright holders.
- Paths of Glory (1957) by Stanley Kubrick was banned in France until the death of President Charles De Gaulle in 1970 due to its critical depiction of the French Army during World War I.
- The Battle of Algiers (1966) was banned in France until 1971 for its criticism of France's human rights violations during the Algerian War of Independence.
- 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).
- Due to a copyright dispute, Oscar Hammerstein's Carmen Jones wasn't released in France until 1981.
- The film Night And Fog, about Nazi concentration camps, was banned from competition in the 1957 Cannes Film Festival on the demand of the West German ambassador, who feared the public might believe All Germans Are Nazis.
- France has been known to criminalize material advancing extreme political positions. Between 1892 and 1994, it was unlawful to promote or advocate anarchy or overthrow of the government. Also in 1994, the government enacted the Gayssot Act, which criminalized material that denied the Holocaust.
- From 1939 to 2004, French government could ban any printed document "of foreign provenance" if it was deemed a threat to public order. Most of these were porn, but some interesting things also found themselves banned:
- Documents from Commie Land or anti-colonial movements were sometimes banned in The Fifties and The '60s.
- In 1976 French government banned Jean-Paul Alata's Prison d'Afrique, where he told how he and his cellmates were tortured in Boiro Camp, using this law to protect their relations with the government of Guinea to be able to invest in their Bauxite mines. Alata was a French national but was stripped of his citizenship in 1962; when his Guinean citizenship was also stripped in 1970 (after a Kangaroo Court sentenced him to life for "treason"); although the work was written and printed in France, the French government still considered him "foreign" because he was technically stateless.
- This law was invoked in 1999 to ban The Turner Diaries.
- In occupied France during World War II, any book from an author whose name was on the Otto or Bernhardt lists (essentially including Jews, anti-Germans, Marxists, Brits, and Americans) was banned from any bookshops.
- A 2001 documentary about mothers was banned when one of the mothers became a suspect in the death of her infant child; it remained banned during the trial to prevent it from influencing the proceedings and was lifted when they ended — ten years later.
- "La Marseillaise", which is now France's National Anthem, was actually banned in France for much of the nineteenth century due to its association with the radicalism of The French Revolution. It didn't become the national anthem permanently until 1879. Oddly, Vichy France retained "La Marseillaise" as the national anthem.
- A spectacle from Dieudonné was banned after the state convinced the administrative court that it would promote anti-Semitic behavior.
Much of what's listed here was the work of a fascist military dictatorship in power in Greece between 1967 and 1974; it banned everything it deemed left-wing or a sign of modern decadence. This included labor unions, the peace symbol, rock music, "new math", miniskirts, and long hair on men. The craziest thing they banned was the letter "Z", which was used as a symbol of murdered resistance leader Grigoris Lambrakis (zi meaning "he lives"). Films—Live Action
- Costa-Gavras' film Z, a political thriller based on the assassination of an outspokenly pacifist, left-wing politician, was predictably banned under the military dictatorship.
- Hercules was so universally despised by Greece for playing fast and loose with Greek Mythology, that they went as far as denying the film a premiere in the country.
- Between 1967 and 1974, the Greek military dictatorship banned the works of Jean-Paul Sartre, Anton Chekhov, Mark Twain, Eugene Ionesco, Leo Tolstoy, Harold Pinter, Samuel Beckett, and even classic playwrights like Sophocles and Aeschylus. Writing about Socrates' homosexuality was also forbidden for a while.
- Aristophanes' play Lysistrata holds the dubious distinction of being banned twice, in 1942 by the Nazi occupators and again from 1967 to 1974 by the Greek military dictatorship. The reason for this is evident: the story is about a woman ending the Peloponnesian War by organizing a protest movement.
- The Greek military dictatorship banned the music of The Beatles, because it was rock music and they were men wearing long hair.
- The music of composer Mikis Theodorakis (best known for Zorba the Greek) was banned due to his opposition to the regime. Theodorakis was also arrested and sent to prison for a few months.
- The infamous Greek Electronic Gaming Ban prohibited gaming in public in an attempt to fight gambling. This made life difficult for companies looking to give their video games a Greek fanbase. Luckily, the ban has since been lifted.
- 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 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 it went on to become a decent financial success with no further incidents.
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was banned on account of its general subject matter. The film was inspired by Gunga Din and other Kipling Mighty Whitey stories that had become discredited within India. Steven Spielberg even tried to shoot it in India, but he couldn't get permission for this reason; he shot most of it in Sri Lanka.
- Blue Jasmine by Woody Allen is banned because of several scenes where people smoke. In India, every time a character smokes, it must either be digitally removed or be accompanied with a scrolling text PSA explaining that smoking is bad. Allen refused to have his film altered in this way and chose simply not to release it in India.
- As of May 2012, courts ordered various ISPs to block Vimeo along with numerous file sharing websites.
- 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.
- 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 Islamic teachings where Noah is considered one of the important prophets of Allah.
- Peter Weir's 1982 Austrialian film The Year of Living Dangerously, which was set in Jakarta and dramatized the fall of President Sukarno, the rise of President Suharto, and the Communist coup which set it all in motion in 1965, was not shown in Indonesia until 1999, after Suharto had been forced to resign.
- Schindler's List was banned after pressure from Muslims for being sympathetic to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
- Dm C 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.
- Fanfiction.net is banned in some ISPs on grounds that it was "abusive".
- Netflix has been banned on one ISP for allegedly carrying family-unfriendly shows. It's completely hypocritical, though, because local Indonesian shows can be notorious for their level of violence.
Any form of media seeking distribution in Iran needs the permission of the Ministry of Islamic Culture, 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 is taboo in Islam), political material disagreeing 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. Film
- 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 Week Not Without My Daughter, where Persian men are portrayed as slavering, inhuman monsters (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, 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 surprisingly banned, but bootleg copies are selling very well.
- Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses was subject of a famous ban in modern times when Ayatollah Khomeini considered the book blasphemous and placed a fatwa on Rushdie's life. Unsurprisingly, the book and Rushdie's other works are banned there, though in 1998 the fatwa was officially lifted by the Iranian government.
- Anything created by members of the Baha'i Faith is banned in Iran. One newspaper was suspended in 2009 because it had an Indian tourism advertisement featuring a photo of a Baha'i temple. Unfortunately for the newspaper, one of the most prominent symbols of modern Delhi, and the photo in said ad, is a great big Baha'i temple.
- Back in 1931 the Irish government banned The Marx Brothers film Monkey Business thinking it might encourage "anarchic tendencies". The ban was only lifted in 2000.
- Freaks was banned on its initial release.
- For a while it was virtually impossible to even film a horror movie in Ireland.
- Monty Python's Life of Brian was banned in Ireland from 1979 until 1987, while Monty Python's The Meaning of Life was banned from 1983 until 1990.
- A Clockwork Orange was banned due to excessive violence.
- Prior to 1960 or so, many films were recut to remove reference to adultery, divorce, homosexuality, contraception, or sex.
- The Evil Dead was banned on its initial release.
- Cannibal Holocaust was banned on its initial release.
- 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 were banned mostly for lurid descriptions of violence and sex; the women's magazines were banned 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.
- The 1948 film of Oliver Twist was banned in Israel because it was felt Alec Guinness's Fagin was an anti-Semitic stereotype. It was banned in Egypt because they felt Fagin was portrayed sympathetically.
- There is an informal ban on performing Richard Wagner's music in Israel, owing to the assumed connections between the music of Wagner and the philosophy of the Nazis (and the fact that Wagner himself was a rabid anti-Semite). A performance of a piece from Tristan und Isolde in 2001 was met with widespread condemnation from the media.
- 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".
- Under the Benito Mussolini regime the children's novel The Story of Ferdinand was banned because the story of a bull who doesn't want to partake in bullfighting was considered to be pacifist/communist brainwashing. Adolf Hitler and Francisco Franco banned it in their countries for the same reason.
- 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 rather Gaddafi)-funded film about the Italian colonial rule, has been banned in Italy since 1987.
- Last Tango in Paris was banned from 1972 until 1986.
- Freaks was banned on its initial release.
- Cannibal Holocaust was banned on its initial release.
- The Devils didn't have a chance in Italy with its blasphemous content and was banned.
- 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).
- 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 infamous for its seizure-inducing strobe effects, which affected hundreds of viewers, most of them children. The whole series was put on hiatus in Japan for four months, and the government required flashing effects like that to be toned down. The episode itself was banned in Japan and most other countries as well.
- 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.
- Mr. Arashi's Amazing Freak Show was banned for depicting graphic violence on animals, which was illegal in Japan. It's a miracle it was even made, as no one wanted to sponsor it, and it took the author five years and his entire life's savings to finish it. It did see a limited print run in Japan after the law was overturned.
- 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 Japanese can get most of these games online (albeit in English).
- Call of Duty: World At War has not been released officially in Japan. The web site GamesRadar.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 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 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 onward, 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. In 1965, 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. 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 1997, the Supreme Court finally ruled that although no censorship had taken place, the ministry had nonetheless abused its discretion in not approving the book.
- The Simpsons episode "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo" has been banned from public broadcast and is unavailable on DVD releases in Japan, due to the cultural stereotypes and scenes that may offend Japanese viewers. It depicts Homer tossing Emperor Akihito into a bin of sumo thongs, the family having an epileptic fit after seeing an anime (a reference to "Electric Soldier Porygon" above), the family going on a sadistic game show, and the implication that the Hello Kitty factory uses live cats in their products.
- Lady Gaga's album Born This Way is banned in Lebanon because, officials say, it is "offensive to Christianity" (mostly due to "Judas").
- As a rule of thumb, any film depicting the American military killing Mexicans in any context, while not always banned, is normally edited out in dubbed versions, for obvious reasons. Oddly enough, subbed versions avert this for some bizarre reason.
- The Last Temptation of Christ premiered in the U.S. 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 up with Mexican loyalists.
- 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 risqué) was indecent. The ban has since then been lifted.
- Aside from SMS contests, phone-in game shows have been banned since November 2007 for being unlawful gambling games.
Anime and Manga
- Puni Puni Poemy was classified as "objectionable material" on the grounds that it depicted sexual exploitation of minors.
- The anime adaptation of High School Dx D has also been banned in New Zealand for similar reasons. Unfortunately, this becomes Harsher in Hindsight if you take note that Scott Freeman, the voice actor for Issei, couldn't take up his role for the third season dub as he was convicted for possession of child porn.
- The first Mad Max film was initially banned for four 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.
- Last Tango in Paris, Faces of Death and Cannibal Holocaust were all banned on their initial release.
- Power Rangers was banned from TV in New Zealand after its first season due to complaints from parents whose children injured themselves trying to imitate the show's fight scenes. What's weird is that every series from Power Rangers Ninja Storm onward 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.
North Korea, probably the single most isolated country in the world, bans nearly anything foreign — and enforces this through torture and gruesome punishments. This can happen even to those caught listening to South Korean music (not that it stops South Korea from broadcasting music over the border, through both radio and giant loudspeakers). North Korea even has its own Internet, completely separate from the normal World Wide Web, and thus free of any outside influence. It would be easier to list what's foreign and not banned in North Korea:
- In the 1990s, the government allowed the novel Gone with the Wind, to show the people an example of what Western art was like. The idea is that it could show The American Civil War and the ugly side of bourgeois capitalism. It became wildly popular, but for the wrong reasons — North Koreans related strongly to the struggle for survival in a poor, war-torn country.
- Bend It Like Beckham is the only Western movie ever shown on North Korean TV, albeit in heavily abridged form.
- Kim Jong-un's regime has slowly allowed more foreign-style media and foreign music, but all of it must be approved by the regime. State TV broadcasts have, for instance, played Frank Sinatra's "My Way", and the state-approved girl group "Moranbong Band" is obviously influenced by K Pop.
- Foreign tourists can get foreign TV channels like BBC World in their hotel rooms. This is easy to pull off because the only hotel open to foreigners in Pyongyang is on an island in the Taedong River, and you can't leave without a guide or talk to any North Korean civilians, so no North Koreans can learn about TV from tourists.
Anime and Manga
- Ferdinand Marcos' KBL regime banned the Super Robot show Voltes V (and many, many others), officially because of violence and horror themes, but really because the premise about rebels fighting against a brutal dictator hit a little too close to home for Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda. This resulted in Voltes V being adopted as a mascot by rebel factions.
- 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 was banned due to extreme violence and animal cruelty. This hasn't stopped the proliferation of bootleg copies.
- There was an attempt to ban the film version of The Da Vinci Code nationwide by conservative Catholic groups in 2006. The government just slapped a R-18 rating on it. 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 Blu-Ray and DVD versions are still available in local stores nationwide.
- The Last Temptation of Christ was not shown due to protests from fundamentalist Christian groups for similar reasons, particularly with Jesus' relationship with Mary Magdalene. And unlike The Da Vinci Code, you cannot find a copy of it in any local video store, and it's rare to find a bootleg copy of it.
- Because of SM's policy of not showing R-18 films in their theaters, Fifty Shades of Grey was not shown in some cities in the Philippines. That didn't stop the movie from being a box office hit and illegally downloaded on the web.
- 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.
- Although The Beatles were not technically banned, they were basically run out of town on a rail when, on their 1965 world tour, they failed to attend an event hosted by Imelda Marcos and involved dozens of school kids. As they said in numerous interviews, they just were not in the mood for it. George Harrison said he did feel guilty about it for years, until the Marcos regime was unmasked as being a dictatorship, which made their refusal a relief to him.
- In 1995, Senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto, also a famous comedian and once a singer in a rock band in the '60s, earned the ire of rock fans when he called for the ban of three songs. The appeal for the ban went nowhere, and arguably painted a picture of Sotto being out on a witch hunt against young rock bands of the present due to his conservative, old-fashioned leanings. The songs he tried to ban:
- "Alapaap" (Skies) by the Eraserheads, a song about being young, open-minded, and happy. He thought it glorified drug use.
- "Laklak" (Drinking Booze) by the Teeth, a satirical song of an adult drunk's booze-fueled journey from youth to present. He thought it promoted underage drinking.
- "Iskolar ng Bayan" (The Town Scholar) by Yano, about stuck-up rich kids in the band members' alma mater, but with a quick, off-the-cuff, non-glorifying drug reference, which he didn't like.
- Local rock station LA 105.9 banned the song "Posporo" (Matches) by teenage punk band Public Menace due to complaints from Philip Morris International Philippines. The anti-smoking song included lines like sige, humithit ka ("c'mon, take a puff") and sige, mamamatay ("c'mon, you're gonna die") sung to the tune of the Marlboro jingle, and the outro played to the tune of The Brass Ring's "The Disadvantages of You", which was used for Philip Morris 100s commercials. It remains one of the few examples of big business forcing a Filipino song to be pulled from air forever by threats of litigation.
- A village in Cavite, Philippines issued a ban on the Game Mod Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars, citing delinquency issues among the youth and brawls ensuing from the game. Of course, this didn't sit well with the video game community, calling it a foul move on the village officials' end.
- Video games in general were banned in the Philippines during the Marcos regime for much the same reasons through Presidential Decree 519, outlawing the use of pinball machines and other such devices. Like Voltes V before that, it was since been lifted following the EDSA revolution.
- Several provinces in The Philippines are already preemptively banning Pokémon Go, citing all the negative press the limited pre-release has gotten.
- 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 any Indian film (between 1953 and 1973), the latter due to the invasions of Portuguese India.
- The regime also banned many songs by Portugese protest singer José "Zeca" Afonso. In a Crowning Moment of Awesome, the rebellion that caused the downfall of the regime was signalled by having Afonso's song "Grandola Vila Morena" (which, ironically, was not itself banned) play nation wide on the radio.
- Last Tango in Paris was banned from 1973 until 1974.
See the "Soviet Union" folder for bans that took place under communist rule.
- Profanity in the media is banned in Russia. Currently, there's no official list of words considered "profanity", so there's some considerable confusion among what people can get away with. This law, like many other new ones, goes against the Russian Constitution, but it's been enacted nonetheless.
- The Communist Party of the Russian Federation tried to get Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull banned for portraying the Soviet Union in a bad light. The film was released over their objections.
- Charlie Wilson's War is not actually banned, but Universal Pictures International Russia decided not to release it, as they 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 overwhelmingly negative.
- Modern Warfare 2 was released in Russia without its infamous optional airport level, "No Russia". In it, the player character participates in an mass slaughter of civilians in Sheremetyevo International Airport. Notably, while they can opt not to fire on the crowds, they cannot retaliate against the terrorists perpetrating it (getting a Non Standard Game Over) and are compelled to kill the responding FSB personnel accordingly. Due to the haphazard ratings review board in Russia, some versions of the game were sold featuring the level, though ultimately the Steam distribution did have it removed. In 2010 Russian MP Valery Seleznyov (LDPR) proposed that the game be added to the list of extremist materials held by the Federal Justice Ministry in Russia (ultimately it was not).
- The game Company of Heroes 2, while not formally banned, was released with extreme controversy in Russia (and the other CIS countries that made up the USSR), for reasons of "overblown fabrications of history", and "offensive and stereotypical lies about Soviet soldiers". For this reason, while the game was still made available for retail purchase, Russian distributor 1C elected not to replenish its stock. What really stands out is that regular players demanded this through a petition — presumably due to the game's less-than-stellar popularity, store inventories of the game persisted for some time afterwards. Likewise, it is purchasable over Steam in Russia. Unsurprisingly, the game has become far better known for the controversy surrounding it than its gameplay.
- A downplayed example of this would be rating games 18+ (i.e. unsuitable for minors) despite the fact that those games are rated "teen" (or 12+, or PG, or something similar) in other countries. A fairly surprising example was The Sims 4, though while not banned, was presumably rated 18+ because the game does nothing to prohibit same-sex relationships. Worth mentioning that the previous three games of the series were not at all different in that particular aspect; they were simply released before the proliferation of Heteronormative Crusader laws in Russia.
- Happy Tree Friends was banned because it promotes "violence and brutality".
- The current Russian government blacklists Internet resources advocating drugs, suicide, and terrorism, ostensibly to protect the children. It is quite often that the notice is served to LiveJournal about a repost, while the original site goes by scot-free. What qualifies as advocating suicide? A PSA about railway safety.
- The Regular Show episode "The Real Thomas" has been banned because its premise about Thomas being a Russian spy was considered offensive as well as Too Soon, given Russia's then-current invasion of the Ukraine. Russian news outlet RT straight-up called the episode "American propaganda", and indeed, the episode is often seen as South Park-style commentary on current events.
- Following the seccession of the Crimean Republic from Ukraine into Russia, a large number of payment processors and online services (particularly those based in the U.S. and Europe) began to block or restrict their services to residents of Crimea (including gaming services, such as Steam, Battle.net, and the local League of Legends) due to sanctions legally barring them from doing business with the country.
- Saudi Arabia banned Jalila and Aya because the government considered the heroines'costumes◊ indecent, as per Islamic law.
- Although the film medium itself is not banned, movie theaters are (mostly) absent in this country.
- Barbie dolls are banned in Saudia Arabia, partly due to Islamic law and its issues with the female body, but also apparently because the government sees them as "Zionist dolls" and "symbols of the perversion and decadence of the West". They solved this by introducing Fulla, The Moral Substitute; although she follows Islamic Dress and promotes Muslim values, she's the same.
- Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was banned for obvious reasons.
- Pokémon is banned in Saudi Arabia for "promoting gambling and Zionism". However, that hasn't stopped some of the media from popping up there, according to Bulbapedia, the Pokemon wiki. The main victim was the Trading Card Game, where the Colorless Energy Card resembles the Jewish Star of David.
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.
- Boys Love genre manga is banned, as part of the country's more symbolic than anything anti-LGBT law.
- Last Tango in Paris, The Evil Dead, and Cannibal Holocaust were banned on initial release for excessive gore.
- Zoolander was banned in Singapore as a move of goodwill towards their neighbor Malaysia. Five years later, though, the two countries had a falling-out, and Singapore lifted the ban. The problem is that even after mending the relationship, Singapore can't just un-ban the movie.
- Possession of chewing gum and bubble gum is illegal in Singapore, with the exception of medicinal gum for therapeutic uses.
- Possession of Jehovah Witnesses literature is illegal in Singapore and can elicit fines and jail time if convicted. Even being a Jehovah Witness itself is illegal in the country, which classifies the religion as a cult movement. It's fine for Jehovah Witness members to visit the country though, so long as they avoid performing activities that the government see as "recruiting new members".
- Wired magazine was banned for running the famous William Gibson article "Disneyland with the Death Penalty", which heavily criticized the state's authoritarian nature.
- Material promoting socialism is prohibited in Singapore.
- In movies and TV shows, scenes or dialogue containing language that is religiously profane or mocks religion is censored.
- The song "Bi" from the Living Colour album Stain was banned.
- 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.
- The website of Chick Publications, home to the infamous Chick tracts, is blocked. A Christian couple was convicted of sedition and fined for distributing Chick tracts that portrayed Islam in a negative light.
- 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. A Google Chrome extension can work around it anyway.
- The Tintin comic book Tintin In The Congo is banned in South Africa, because of its racially outdated depiction of black people. In the rest of Africa, even Congo itself, the story is one of the most popular in the Tintin series.
- Being There had its final scene cut for its original release due to concern that the Twist Ending (which reveals Chance can walk on water) would offend Christians.
- To Sir, with Love, a 1967 film about a black Guyanese teacher (played by Sidney Poitier) living in England and dealing with white students, was banned during The Apartheid Era. Since then, it's been given an A (for "all ages") rating.
- Cry Freedom was banned during the Apartheid era.
- Black Beauty was formerly banned in South Africa. Having the words "black" and "beauty" in the title was evidently a no-no during apartheid, despite that "Black Beauty" refers to a horse.
- The South African government refused to allow the introduction of television broadcasting until 1976, as they felt television would corrupt its people. In 1969, South Africa was one of the few countries where the moon landing could not be seen live. This was seen as a national humiliation and proved to be the catalyst for the eventual lifting of the ban on television.
- Bob Marley 's album Survival was sold in South Africa during Apartheid, but the title and liner notes of "Africa Unite" were erased with a black marker and on the record itself the entire track was scratched so that it would skip when being played.
- The Pink Floyd album The Wall was banned during the Apartheid era because the song "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" was used in a student uprising against propaganda in the education system.
Anime and Manga
- The first two episodes of Eto Rangers were banned due to the featured Fractured Fairy Tale depicted being Momotaro, a Japanese folk tale. Since these were the premiere episodes, this left a considerable plot gap.
- According to Bulbapedia several episodes of Pokémon are banned. The list includes the infamous "Electric Soldier Porygon", but it also includes episodes prominently featuring samurai outfits and other items that bring up thoughts of the rocky history between Korea and Japan. This might also have to do with the unusual trait of the show being adapted from the 4Kids Entertainment version instead of the Japanese original.
- 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 Korea.
- Last Tango in Paris was banned on its initial release.
- In the mid-1990s, South Korea banned tobacco smoking in Korean dramas. The ban was later 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 M*A*S*H, because South Koreans are depicted as living in poverty, even though it's realistic; at the time of the Korean War and until The '70s, South Korea's GDP was smaller than Ghana's.
- Any show that has Japanese elements is immediately not allowed for airing in the country due to strained Japan-Korea relations. In fact, Power Rangers Ninja Storm (an American-made show) and Samurai Sentai Shinkenger never got aired in dubbed form at all — the latter only got any air time when the dubs of Kamen Rider Decade and Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger showed them.
- For many years, South Korea had a ban on most cultural products from Japan. This began to be lifted in the late 1990s, although enforcement had been relatively lax since about ten years prior.
- Throughout the Cold War, South Korea banned anything which it regarded as either pro-communist or pro-North Korean propaganda. These bans were largely overturned in the 1990s.
- 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".
- Rain's song "Rainism" was banned soon after the Rainism album release due to the lyrics "make you scream with my magic stick".
- 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. G-Dragon didn't help matters when he dry humped◊ one of his female back dancers during his first concert, with 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 a triple whammy. The video was banned from public broadcast because it featured pole dancing (really just dancing near a pole), broadcaster KBS banned it for belittling lyrics (the "how dare you", which is directed at 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 Korean state broadcaster KBS bans any video that depicts traffic law violations. Basically, this means that every video where you see a guy running wildly across the streets gets banned. Examples of this include Rain's Love Song. And also "Gentleman" by PSY, for a single shot in which he kicks over a traffic cone.
- 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.
- Homefront is obviously banned for depicting both Koreas united under Northern rule.
- Until the 2000s or so, import video games originating from Japan had to have all Japanese voicework and Japanese song vocals removed, as well as depictions of samurai.
- 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 relatively 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 was banned. Light-hearted French comedies were approved and translated with little or no fuss, but something like Star Wars would be banned and bad-mouthed in newspapers for a long time. The Empire Strikes Back was not shown on public television until 1988.
- Soviet censors were notoriously prudish, so anything with sexual content was banned. A notable exception was the very sexual Little Vera, a perestroika-era thriller.
- Many overtly religious films (due to the USSR's anticlerical politics and formal promotion of atheism). Due to its status, films about Russian Orthodoxy were more likely to get through (especially during the major religious revivals of the 1940s and 1950s).
- Anything showing America or another Western country in a positive light was banned. American works that trashed capitalism and democracy were more likely to be approved. This backfired on them when the Soviet authorities, at the very end of the Soviet Union, allowed the Oliver Stone film Wall Street, as the message Stone was sending (that capitalist fat cats were exploiting the economy for obscene gain) aligned neatly with Soviet ideology. Soviet viewers cheered on Gordon Gekko as a hero.
- Despite its socialist message, the film version of The Grapes of Wrath was banned after Soviet audiences ended up being impressed that the Joads could afford their own car.
- The Battleship Potemkin, an early Soviet propaganda film glorifying the communist revolution against Tsarist Russia, was banned under Josef Stalin for its anti-authority message.
- All American films were banned in the USSR until 1932's Cabin in the Cotton, which was the first to be deemed "anti-bourgeois" enough to pass muster (since it's about a sharecropper mediating between management and labor and taking the side of labor).
- George Orwell's Animal Farm was banned because of its allegory to the Russian Revolution and particularly Josef Stalin (since it was written as such as a means to slip past the editors).
- 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.
- Apart from a few short stories, everything Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote after One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was banned in the Soviet Union. His novel The Gulag Archipelago was the final straw and caused him to be exiled in 1974. Even before he was deported, he could only publish his work abroad.
- Foreign rock bands deemed "subversive", like The Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground, and Frank Zappa, were banned. The music of The Beatles was banned as well, but it flourished on the black market. This meant that "Back in the U.S.S.R." from The White Album could not be legally played in the actual U.S.S.R. The documentary How the Beatles Rocked The Kremlin addresses this topic. Domestic rock bands, who often imitated the famous greats, were often controversial, but they weren't automatically banned; this is how Viktor Tsoi became one of the most famous Soviet Koreans in a country of 300 million people.
- The only Shakespeare play to be banned in the Soviet Union was Hamlet during Josef 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.
- The Spirou and Fantasio album "The Dictator and the Mushroom" (1956) was banned under Francisco Franco's regime for poking fun at dictators.
- Many books that contradicted or attacked the conservative values and strict social climate of Francisco 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, when even dogs were considered food.
- Under the Franco regime, the children's novel The Story of Ferdinand was banned because the story of a bull who doesn't want to partake in bullfighting was considered to be pacifist/communist brainwashing. Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler did the same in their respective countries.
- Saw VI was the first mainstream film to be rated X in Spain due to extreme violence, and therefore it 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 the film against its own 3D sequel, which 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 Buñuel'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 also a parody of the Last Supper made by homeless people (with a blind man as Jesus) and a scene where Viridiana's uncle tries to rape her although he regrets trying to do it and later kills himself. This cost Buñuel his passport, and the movie only escaped because 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.
- Under Francisco Franco's regime, many songs were banned if they hinted at sex, had links to Communists, or did anything that went against Catholic teachings.
- "Theme For A Dream" by Cliff Richard was banned for supposedly suggestive lines.
- "Hymne A L' Amour" by Édith Piaf was banned because Piaf dedicated it to her lover Marcel Cerdan, with whom she had an adulterous affair at the time.
- A Brazilian song with the name Brigitte Bardot in the title was also banned, just because of the title.
- A Spanish version of Nat King Cole’s record “El Bodeguero” (“The Vintner”) was banned lest it encouraged Spaniards to go out and get drunk.
- Gene Vincent's "Be-Bop-A-Lula" was banned.
- Sweden bans advertising directed to children. For this reason, there were initially some difficulties with importing Pokémon due to the show's Merchandise-Driven nature (although apparently, the show eventually passed muster). However, Sweden's strict advertising laws (which also ban the broadcast of commercials in the middle of programs) only seem to apply to broadcasters that are actually based inside the country; as such, many pay TV channels (including children's channels) broadcast out of nearby countries such as Denmark, Norway, or even the United Kingdom, whose laws aren't as strict, meaning they can air all the toy commercials they please.
- The 1971 Troma film Cry Uncle! was banned in Sweden until 2003 due to a scene in which the antihero has sex with a corpse.
- The Evil Dead was banned on its initial release.
- Un ballo in maschera was not performed in Sweden until the 1920's. When it was finally allowed there, it was detested because of its historical inaccuracy.
- Motorsport racing is banned in the country since 1955 after the Le Mans disaster, when a crash killed the driver and 83 spectators. The only motorsport events allowed in the country are time trials like hillclimbing.
Anime and Manga
- Thai anime fans have had to deal with some of the most bizarre censorship on the planet. Censors will blur out everything from modest, one-piece swimsuits to the exposed chests of male characters in Dragon Ball Z.
- 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.
- Tropico 5 was banned in Thailand because the game hit too close to home with the military junta that had seized control of the country.
- The entire Grand Theft Auto series was banned in 2008 when a fan of GTA IV killed a taxi driver. This affected subsequent releases such as Chinatown Wars and Grand Theft Auto V.
- 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".
- The song "One Night in Bangkok" from the musical Chess is banned, probably due to its description of Bangkok as a "crowded, polluted, stinking town" that's only good for sex tourism. Despite this, it gets frequent play there.
- Thailand actively bans written works that criticize the Thai royal family, and under Thai law, authors who attack the Thai king are subject to imprisonment. This is evident in the jailing of an Australian novelist in 2008.
- Depictions of smoking are pixelated 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). See for yourself.
- Facebook and Twitter was blocked in Thailand after a military coup took place. The excuse was that they needed to stop the rebels from "spreading lies and further destabilizing the already fragile political environment".
Anime and Manga
- Pokémon was temporarily banned after two children were inspired to jump 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 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.
- Various websites, such as Blogger.com, WordPress, Richard Dawkins' website, Little Green Footballs, and The Jawa Report have all been banned in Turkey at one time or another, all for the same reasons. Dawkins has a banner on his site marking this as a point of pride.
- According to a report from Reporters Without Borders, more than 5,000 websites are censored in Turkey.
- 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 its people's internet activity. Anonymous is launching one of its "hacktivism" attacks in response. An Internet filtration system was later put 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 its citizens viewing.
- Recorded music was banned in all places in 2005 because of the growing foreign influence.
- Opera and ballet were banned in 2001 because the Türkmenbaşy found them unnecessary to their culture.
- Virtually all of them during Nyýazow's rule.
- Brüno, Saw 3D, Land of the Dead, Hostel Part II, and The Simpsons have been banned in Ukraine for violence (Saw 3D, Land of the Dead, and Hostel: Part II), sexual content considered deviant by the Ukrainian government (Brüno), and subversive content/humor (Bruno and The Simpsons). 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 government had extended their focus for this title going far as 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.
- BlazBlue: Continuum Shift is banned on the grounds of suggestive and revealing outfits on some characters.
- Noah is banned as it contradicts the Islamic teachings where Noah is considered one of the important prophets of Allah.
- Hugo Chavez's administration was quick to ban any show it didn't like. The most notable was Colombian soap opera Chepe Fortuna, which had a supblot 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 doggie named Hugo. It was Actually Pretty Funny, but the government was not amused.
- All video games that include any killer violence had been banned since 2010 — except 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.
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was banned in Vietnam, though the decision was ultimately made by Sony's international distribution company, who protested Vietnam's censors cutting out the nude scenes.
Anime and Manga
- The three OVA's of Violence Jack, which is based of the manga series of the same name, is rumored to be banned in every country it was ever released in. Not suprising, since the title itself refers to the fact that the guy murders literally every single person he ever comes across.
- Malaysia banned Fifty Shades of Grey for its "sadistic" and "unnatural" content. It's also been banned in Kenya, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and India, for unspecified reasons.
- Borat got banned in every single Arab country except for Lebanon as the film censors in those countries found it impossible to even censor without leaving plot holes open. In one account, a censor in the United Arab Emirates stated that only half an hour of the film would have been left had they censored the offensive scenes rather than ban it outright. In fact, he and his colleagues walked out of the room before it even ended. Similarly, Kazakhstan banned the film for similar reasons, but later relented after the government admitted to a tourist boom linked to the film's popularity. In addition, the Russian Ministry of Culture recommended that the film not be shown in theaters, at least partly out of fear that the country's substantial Central Asian minority would not understand that the film is really meant to lampoon American ignorance (partly because they might not believe that anyone can be that ignorant of their culture).
- The Best Page in the Universe:
- The site is banned in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. And he's proud of it. He even once traveled to Dubai to verify that his site is indeed banned there and to litter printouts of his website around the city to taunt the ban. (Turns out he was banned for a technicality, not content, but he thinks it still counts.)
- In a case of Un-Person, the site is also banned in stores or other workplaces associated with Apple, in such a way that suggests the site doesn't even exist at all (attempts to access it from those IPs instead redirect to a MacBook Pro ad).