Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Gays In Pop Culture: You Win Some, You Win Some

China has banned the massive South Korean hit "King and the Clown" because of its gay subtext. (Believe me, all the reports say the film is far from racy.) The movie was an absolute blockbuster in South Korea, grossing some $85 mil in a country of only 48 mil people. (That's "Star Wars" level success.) So is this a step back? No, because China had to deal with this issue. South Korea happens to be the most influential country in Asia pop culturally speaking, so this movie will make it to China one way or another. Similarly, the Egyptian parliament is going to consider censoring a new movie because it depicts homosexuality (as well as terrorism, though it's a tossup as to which the politicians think is worse). But remember this: the movie has already been in theaters for two weeks, whereas in the past it would never have been made. One politician even felt obliged to say, "I respect freedom of expression and creativity, but this [film] is neither." He pays lip service to free speech? In Egypt? Finally, British activists and the cops stopped a performance by reggae star Buju Banton in a gay district of Brighton. Banton sings a song calling for gay people to be shot in the head; in fact, it's his biggest hit. Debate away whether that's good or bad for a free society, but it's certainly a sign of power that this happened.

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