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Films

From George Romero to Martin Scorsese: 9 Netflix titles that have been banned

Netflix is pretty lenient with its productions and rarely gets into the murky business of censorship. They actively believe in promoting and propagating artistic freedom and show unconditional support to artists who express their creative assertion. However, at times, the Netflix content is deemed harmful and abhorrent by certain regions that compel the streaming giant to consider the claims before taking necessary action.

Since most of Netflix’s content is accessible to all and has a larger impact on the socio-political demography, Netflix often has to comply with laws and demands meted out by various regions to maintain cordial relations with official personnel and government organisations.

From Singapore having stringent laws regarding drugs and other substance consumption to certain films attacking the religious sentiment of a particular land, various issues have prompted the streaming platform to take such drastic actions.

Here are nine such Netflix titles that have been banned following official complaints from specific regions:

9 Netflix titles that have been banned

Night of the Living Dead (George A. Romero, 1968)

A “bonafide classic” and a groundbreaking film in the zombie horror genre, Romero’s 1968 film was removed from Netflix Germany after the German Commission for Youth and Protection (KJM) lodged a complaint in 2017 for unspecified reasons. However, speculations are that the abundant presence of blood and gore in the film might have possibly led to this decision, surprising given Germany’s lack of censorship in general.

The film is a zombie flick that shows a group of five strangers trying to survive amidst an army of the undead. As they struggle to maintain parity, their chances of getting out unscathed through the night reduce considerably.

Full Metal Jacket (Stanley Kubrick, 1987)

Kubrick’s 1987 flick exposes and questions the idea of warfare and military ideals by exploring the atrocities of the Vietnam War that included rapid dehumanization, degradation, violence and more, while gradually exploring the Hue fight during the Tet Offensive in 1968.

However, the film was banned in Vietnam after the Vietnamese Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information (ABEI) demanded it was restricted. Much of this is due to the less sympathetic portrayal of the nation in the film and the film’s Americanised perspective.

The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorsese, 1988)

Based on Nikos Kazantakis’ eponymous and controversial novel, the film was banned in Singapore by the IMDA.  The 2019 ban was not due to religious reasons or the “blasphemous” portrayal of Christianity but due to the portrayal of vaping, chewing gum and more that are banned in Singapore, including a gathering of a group comprising more than three individuals after 10pm. 

Scorsese’s three-hour-long epic stars Dafoe as the humanised version of Christ as he tries to grapple with the burden of being the Messiah. It evokes human feelings of fear, doubt, reluctance, melancholy and lust while constantly commenting on sacrifice, sin and atonement. 

The Bridge (Eric Steel, 2006) 

Eric Steel’s 2006 documentary focuses on one of the most infamously popular suicide locations in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge. With interviews from families and friends of the disease, it is a commentary on declining mental health, depression, substance abuse while raising awareness about suicide and civic duty.  

However, the film was considered “objectionable” in New Zealand and thus removed from the regional Netflix after New Zealand Film and Video Labelling Body demanded its removal in their written application.

The Legend of 420 (Peter Spirer, 2017)

The documentary focused on the growth of the marijuana industry while enhancing the decriminalisation of cannabis in the United States as well as the various uses of the plant, including dining, medical benefits, anxiety medication and more. 

IMDA in Singapore was not pleased with the show’s content and requested a ban that occurred in 2017. It’s the kind of censorship that usually provokes more documentarians to dust off their cameras and begin a new project.

Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj (Hasan Minhaj, 2018)

Hasan Minhaj is quite the stand-up comic who has garnered immense popularity by recounting his personal experiences of being a brown Indian Muslim immigrant in the United States. A political satire, Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, has five seasons. One particular episode titled “Saudi Arabia” was requested for removal by the Saudi Communication and Information technology Commission as it violated the Saudi anti-cybercrime law; thus, Netflix complied. They stated that despite strongly supporting “artistic freedom”, they had “received a valid legal request” and decided to “comply with local law”. 

The episode is still available for streaming in other countries except for Saudi Arabia and deals with the rocky relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia following the death of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist, and goes on to deconstruct more controversial topics, including the Saudi-led Yemen war. 

Cooking On High (Marcel Fuentes, 2018)

Hosted by YouTuber Josh Leyva, Cooking On High is a cannabis cooking show where professional cannabis chefs use marijuana as their main ingredient infused into various food items. 

Singapore has very strict laws regarding drugs that include nearly ten years in prison for being apprehended with illegal substances. The Singapore Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) asked for the scrapping off of the show and Netflix was quick to comply. 

Disjointed (David Javerbaum, Chuck Lorre, 2018) 

This comedy sitcom focused on Ruth Whitefeather, an advocate for cannabis legalisation, and her escapades that help provide a brilliant commentary on PTSD, medicinal usage of marijuana, stereotypes and many more. 

The Singaporean IMDA was not pleased with the show’s content and requested a ban that was carried out rather swiftly by Netflix as the show, the streaming giant’s first-ever multi-cam original, was cancelled after just ten episodes.  

The Last Hangover (Rodrigo Van Der Put, 2018) 

This raucous Brazilian comedy and Hangover parody sees The Last Supper apostles indulge in a night of drunkenness and debauchery when Jesus Christ’s disappearance prompts them to look for him and uncover the events that led to his mysterious disappearance. 

No surprises, the apostles having a gala time was not well-received by the IMDA in Singapore, and Netflix complied with their demands of removing the title that comprised holy men engaging in wild activities.