With all this talk of, hype over, and yes, even controversy about the “exclusively gay moment” in Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast remake, you’d think (or hope) said “moment” would cut away to Josh Gad’s LeFou, around whom the “moment” centers, in a sling, being drizzled in the ejaculate of all of Disney’s two-dimensional Prince Charmings past. But alas, this gay “moment” is as significantly insignificant as the words “gay moment” should have always suggested — a cute, innocuous aside that the Internet prematurely overhyped as a messiah of representation. (A notion that even the cast has been trying to temper.) But now, other countries — their homophobic imaginations sent into a frenzy by all the super-gay talk around the film — have taken measures to censor it.
In Russia, which originally considered banning Beauty and the Beast as gay propaganda, the film is now restricted for people under 16. Even more extreme, Malaysia requested that the gay “moment” be cut altogether — and yes, I can’t believe I’m still writing about this diminutive thing with so much weight, but alas, such is the weight even the most G-rated (though technically PG, for some reason) gay millisecond gets in global politics.
“We have approved it but there is a minor cut involving a gay moment. It is only one short scene but it is inappropriate because many children will be watching this movie,” the film censorship board chairman, Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid, told the Guardian. In Malaysia, as the publication points out, sodomy can get you 20 years — and whippings — in prison. Sodomy was first criminalized in the country by a British colonial law, and the criminalization was maintained under relatively theocratic Muslim governance. (Russia, meanwhile, is an outlier as an anti-LGBT society, given that it’s far less religious than most such societies, but people view Russian Orthodoxy as symbolically important on a nationalist level, which has perpetuated a good deal of anti-LGBT sentiment). In Malaysia, you’re only allowed to depict gayness on film if the character repents for it, with a character “going straight” or being punished.
Now, Disney has shelved the film for release in Malaysia. It’d be nice to think they’re refusing to screen the film without the “moment” — perhaps out of corporate goodness/mild progressiveness, and/or also because capitulating to that ridiculous demand would surely be a PR nightmare domestically. But that’s speculation, as Disney has thus far said that they’re postponing the opening for “internal review,” and did not, per USA Today, make an actual appeal about the decision to cut the scene. Malaysia’s main movie theater chains reported that, without reason, the film opening has been postponed without a new date in sight.
Update 3/16: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney has refused to cut “the moment,” and has changed the release date to March 30 in the country, giving the Film Censorship Board the extra time to decide if they’ll screen the film with the scene, or decline to screen it at all.