Rocketman has been banned in Samoa due to its gay scenes. Following in the footsteps of last year’s big Oscar winner and box office draw, Bohemian Rhapsody, the Elton John biopic Rocketman has already garnered plenty of worldwide attention.
The new film features Kingsman star Taron Egerton as Elton John, and currently enjoys a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Compared to Bohemian Rhapsody’s 61% rating, this could be an early indication that Rocketman is well on its way to finding similar or even greater success than that of Bohemian Rhapsody. So far there have been rave reviews for Egerton’s musical performances, which the 29-year-old did completely on his own - as opposed to Oscar winner Rami Malek, whose Bohemian Rhapsody performances were an amalgamation of Malek’s actual voice, Queen master tapes and the voice of Christian rock singer Marc Martel.
Unfortunately, not everyone, everywhere is able to enjoy the onscreen talents of Egerton or the life story of one of the greatest rock n’ roll singers of all time. A new report from Reuters has pointed out that the South Pacific island nation of Samoa has officially banned Rocketman from its cinemas as of last week. Citing a clash between the film’s depiction of homosexuality and Samoa’s “culture and our Christian beliefs”, the island’s censor, Leiataua Niuapu Faaui revealed that the film’s Samoan release would be cancelled.
This isn’t the first time that cinematic depictions of homosexuality or the mere broaching of the subject have caused some nations problems. Back in March of this year, more than two minutes of content was removed from Bohemian Rhapsody’s Chinese release. So far, Rocketman has had scenes of drug use and gay sex removed from its Russian release, which really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to Russia’s virulent approach to homosexuality. Nonetheless, approximately five minutes worth of content was censored, prompting John and Rocketman’s filmmakers to issue a statement criticizing the move. Paramount followed suit soon afterward. As of this writing, there has yet to be any response to Samoa’s outright ban of Rocketman from John or anyone else involved with the film.
It’s easy to dismiss Samoa’s rejection of Rocketman as a tiny, isolated nation overreacting to content and subject matter that its inhabitants fear. While this may be the case, it doesn't make it justified. Samoa’s total population sits just under 200,000, with 97% of that number identifying as Christian. It’s a sad state of affairs that in 2019, films continue to be edited, censored and banned simply for giving insight into the private lives of some of the most famous people in the world. No film should ever be banned, and to do so ultimately does more harm than good. In the end, Rocketman will continue to prevail, but it’s very unfortunate that not everyone who wants to experience the film for themselves can.