Scroll To Top
World

Brokeback Mountain, other films listed by U.S. as
human rights victims

Brokeback Mountain, other films listed by U.S. as
human rights victims

Brokeback_jake_0

Fictional gay cowboys and a faux reporter from Kazakhstan suffered human rights abuses in 2006 as crackdowns on flesh-and-blood victims were extended to the Internet, award-winning films, and noted plays worldwide, the State Department says.

Fictional gay cowboys and a faux reporter from Kazakhstan suffered human rights abuses in 2006 as crackdowns on flesh and blood victims were extended to the Internet, award-winning films, and noted plays worldwide, the State Department says. From the movies Borat to Brokeback Mountain, foreign governments banned or restricted access to a variety of big- and little-screen entertainment as well as live events, the State Department says.

British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (creator of Borat, the crass Kazakh chronicler of the American condition) and the gay cowboy love story that won three Oscars were hit with what it deemed violations of freedoms of speech and expression. So were the The Da Vinci Code, The Vagina Monologues, and even the popular Google Earth Web site, according to the department's annual survey of global human rights practices released this week.

Amid a litany of deadly crackdowns on dissent, extrajudicial killings, torture, and arrests, the report suggests that traditional censorship of overtly political works of art, literature, and film may be entering new territory.

Baron Cohen--who vexed the authoritarian Kazakh government with his mocking in the film that rocketed him to fame, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan--became a victim when Kazakhstan moved against his satirical Web site. Specifically, it took control of the registration of .kz Internet domains in 2005 and then revoked Baron Cohen's Borat domain, since relocated, because it deemed his site offensive, the report said.

The movie depicting Borat's pseudo-documentary wanderings across the U.S. became an unlikely hit and earned Baron Cohen a Golden Globe award. It also generated complaints that he duped his American subjects into making racist and sexist remarks and portrayed Kazakhs in an unflattering light.

Borat, for example, asserted that Kazakhs are addicted to horse urine, enjoy shooting dogs, view rape and incest as respectable hobbies, and are fond of "running of the Jew" festivals. Baron Cohen is an observant Jew.

The State Department report made no mention of the contents of the film or the Web site but said Baron Cohen's banishment was symptomatic of repression in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic in central Asia. It accused the government of monitoring dissident e-mail and Internet activity, blocking or slowing access to opposition sites, and planting propaganda in Internet chat rooms.

While Borat came under fire in Kazakhstan, Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain was banned in the Bahamas, where censors said it lacked public value and depicted extreme homosexuality, nudity, and profanity, the report said.

Eve Ensler's acclaimed feminist play The Vagina Monologues failed to pass censors' muster in Uganda, which claimed it promoted "unnatural sex acts, homosexuality, and prostitution," the department said.

The film version of Dan Brown's best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code sparked action by government officials in Egypt, which felt its assertions of a centuries-old cover-up of Jesus' alleged bloodline could prompt religious unrest.

The report said Morocco, embroiled in a long dispute with Algeria over a neighboring former Spanish colony, blocked access to the "Google Earth" directory of satellite imagery in 2006, apparently because it identified Western Sahara as an autonomous entity.

Among other cultural rights violations, the State Department cited:

Algeria, for forcing the cancellation of performances by French humorist Djamel Debbouze, allegedly because of his position on the Western Sahara.

Belarus, for forcing a dissident theater group into an underground venue to stage a production of Techniques of Breathing in a Closed Space, a drama adapted from accounts of torture of detainees based on testimony from the wives of missing government foes.

Myanmar, for barring a locally renowned comedian and critic of the military regime, Zargana, from giving public performances, publicizing, or screening a new satirical film.

Poland, for a court's failure to act on an appeal by artist Dorota Nieznalska, who was convicted in 2004 of offending religious beliefs and sentenced to six months of "restricted freedom" and community service for putting a photo of male genitals on a Christian cross. (Matthew Lee, AP)

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories