By now we've all heard the great pro-equality speeches by Sean Penn and Dustin Lance Black from the Oscar telecast. Sean Penn, not surprisingly, took on anti-gay political sentiment (and Westboro Baptist Church), while Black delivered a tear-jerking message to young queer youth that they are beautiful and loved. I know that as a young gay boy living in rural Florida who used to stay awake to watch the Oscars, Black's message would have had a profound impact on me.
But it seems that millions of people all over the world didn't get to hear that message of hope.
Yahoo is reporting that STAR, an Asian satellite TV service which reaches more than 300 million viewers in 53 countries, censored the Oscars to remove the words "gay" and "lesbian." Malaysia, Singapore, and India (where huge numbers where watching to see "Slumdog Millionaire" win) where among the countries where people complained about the censorship.
Jannie Poon, STAR's Hong Kong-based spokeswoman, said the provider has
a responsibility to take the sensitivities and guidelines of all our markets into consideration.
So a mass censoring of a show celebrating the arts due to "sensitivities" is the answer? Odd how there where no reports of censoring any of the touching, kissing, or other acts of affection between heterosexual people (which in many of the countries in question can go against cultural norms and acceptability), yet the mere words "gay" and "lesbian" where deemed too shocking and unacceptable.
Someone help them if they ever broadcast the Tony's...
Pang Khee Teik, a prominent Malaysian arts commentator who is gay, summed it up in a letter to many media outlets:
As a gay man, I am truly offended. Stop censoring the words that describe who I am. The move sent a message ... that gays and lesbians are still shameful things to be censored from the public's ears.
This was a message that needed to reach not only the LGBT people in other countries, but also their families, neighbors and governments.
(h/t to reader Christopher T)