A television broadcaster in South Korea blurred some scenes of men kissing in the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody and cut other scenes entirely. According to the Korean Herald, the Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) cut two scenes that showed men kissing and also manually blurred men kissing in the background. SBS claimed it is not uncommon to edit movies for content when broadcasting during earlier hours when children can watch, but one group objected to the edits describing them as discriminatory.
“It is a movie the entire family can enjoy, and we intentionally bought the sing-along version,” an unnamed official with SBS told the Herald, claiming the kissing scenes were “very long” and SBS was extra cautious because the movie was aired during a time when “the entire family watches together.” The official said their censorship did not just apply to gay content.
“Even if it were a kissing scene between a man and a woman, if the scene is too risqué or continues for a long period of time, making us feel that it could be uncomfortable for the families watching together, we would have edited similarly,” they said.
Not everyone agreed, and one local group found SBS’s actions objected to the edits.
“The attitude of dismissing both the story and scenes of sexual minorities as violent or sensational is nothing more than censorship that shows hatred and discrimination against sexual minorities,” the Korean LGBTQ+ group Rainbow Action said in a statement.
The 2018 Bohemian Rhapsody stars Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury and tells the story of the star’s rise to fame as singer for the British rock group Queen. Malek won an Oscar for his performance showing the public and private life of the late singer who came out publicly about his HIV diagnosis in 1991, and died the following day. The movie depicts numerous scenes of intimate same-sex relations, but is not pornographic and received a PG-13 rating. Six full minutes of the movie was censored by officials in China before the movie was shown there, although Out found only two minutes of explicitly queer content in the film.
“We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself,” Malek said in his speech accepting his Oscar, adding that his win was “proof that we’re longing for stories like this.”