Rocketman banned in Samoa over depictions of homosexuality
Another country is taking issue — and taking action — with Rocketman over its depiction of homosexuality.
The Samoan government banned the acclaimed Elton John film from screening in the South Pacific island country, according to Samoa’s principal censor Leiataua Niuapu Faaui.
News first broke on Friday when the Apollo Cinemas Samoa revealed on Facebook, “Unfortunately due to censoring issues we have had to cancel Rocketman.”
Rocketman, chronicling John’s childhood and rise as a music icon, clashed with the country’s “culture and our Christian beliefs,” Faaui told newspaper Somoa Observer. He added, the film is “not good for public viewing and violates laws against same-sex marriage.”
Per figures from the Associated Press, 97 percent of people in Samoa identify as Christian. In 2013, a Crimes Act was passed in the country that deemed sodomy an offense punishable by up to seven years in prison, even if both parties consented.
Rocketman, per orders from John himself not to hold back on his drug use and sex life as a rock ‘n’ roller, features multiple instances of intimate same-sex acts, including a kiss between a young John (played by Taron Egerton) and an American musician backstage before a show, and a more explicit sex scene involving John and his former manager John Reid (played by Richard Madden). It also concludes with a note during the end credits about John’s current family life with husband David Furnish, who also produced Rocketman.
Faaui conceded to the newspaper, “It’s a good story, in that it’s about an individual trying to move on in life.”
A rep from the Samoan government did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment.
BBC News pointed out that Samoan censors previously banned Harvey Milk biopic Milk in 2009 for LGBTQ content and The Da Vinci Code, the adaptation of the Dan Brown book, in 2006 over a conflict with the country’s religious beliefs.
In Russia, a distributor censored scenes from Rocketman featuring homosexual acts, prompting a strong stance against the action from the filmmakers.
“We reject in the strongest possible terms the decision to pander to local laws and censor Rocketman for the Russian market, a move we were unaware of until today,” John and the filmmakers said in a joint statement. “Paramount Pictures have been brave and bold partners in allowing us to create a film which is a true representation of Elton’s extraordinary life, warts and all. That the local distributor has edited out certain scenes, denying the audience the opportunity to see the film as it was intended is a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people. We believe in building bridges and open dialogue,” the statement continues, “and will continue to push for the breaking down of barriers until all people are heard equally across the world.”