While the internet is in the midst of a Jennifer Lopez renaissance, it looks like Malaysia’s censors are immune to Hustlers fever as it just banned the film for its nudity and scenes featuring drug use.
Based on a true story, the film tells the tale of a group of female strippers who steal money from rich CEOs and stockbrokers during the 2008 financial crisis. It has an all-star cast consisting of Lopez, Crazy Rich Asians’ Constance Wu, and rapper Cardi B, and has earned US$72.4 million worldwide as of Sept. 22.
But it turns out that Malaysian viewers won’t be contributing to the box office numbers. On Sept. 20, the day the movie was to be released, distributor Square Box Pictures announced that Hustlers screenings had been canceled.
They said the country’s film censorship board found the “excessive obscene content” as something “not suitable for public screening.”
“We can see women’s breasts and men’s private parts,” Mohamad Zamberi Abdul Aziz, Malaysia’s Film Censorship Board chairman, told AFP. “There are also erotic dances which are too much, and scenes [with drugs].”
Malaysians are not happy with the cancellation.
"Just found out that Hustlers is officially banned from screening in malaysia and boi im mad af," tweeted @omarlikhan.
"Taking a break from studying to say FUCK the govt for banning Hustlers in Malaysia, i’m sorry that empowered female sex workers scare y’all that much," wrote user @anakinandrea.
"They really banned hustlers in malaysia i- hmmmm ok hahaha who tryna fly out to watch the movie with me," said @msdanijwong.
Malaysian authorities are infamously conservative. In August, censors cut out scenes from the Elton John biopic Rocketman that showed gay sex scenes.
“We do not allow any scenes that promote LGBTQ in films that are for public viewing,” Safaruddin Mohammad Ali, head of the country’s censorship films unit, told Reuters. “Although it is about the real-life of Elton John, it is not for him to allow the public to see whatever he does or whatever activities he indulges in that is not our culture.”
In March 2017, Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast was postponed from release because of a “gay moment” featured in the film. This pertains to a part when the villain Gaston’s male sidekick is insinuated to have feelings for him. The censorship board proposed cuts that the studio refused to undertake. The movie was eventually screened, but with a 13+ age rating.