Principal Censor stands by decision to ban Rocketman

By Sapeer Mayron, 10 June 2019

The Principal Censor, Leiataua Niuapu Faaui, of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration is standing by his decision to ban the screening of the Rocketman at Apollo Cinemas.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Leitaua said that while Rocketman tells a good story of success, there were too many scenes “not good for public viewing” in the film.

Rocketman, the story of Elton John’s life, was banned by the Samoa Censorship Board on Thursday. 

Apollo Cinemas, who brought the film to Samoa, has not yet filed an appeal on the decision.

Leiataua said depiction of homosexual sexual activity on screen met criteria where it “violates laws against same sex marriage and it doesn’t go well with cultural and Christian beliefs here.

“It’s a good story, in that it’s about an individual trying to move on in life,” Leiataua said.

“He went through a difficult family life and managed to move on and become very successful. But there are acts that are not good for public viewing, and against the law.”

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Rocketman’s frequent depiction of homosexual sexual activity and Mr John’s same-sex marriage tipped it over the scales from the highest rating possible R21, to rejected/banned.

The Principal Censor said films are given R (restricted) ratings when the content is violent or sexual but can be viewed by responsible adults.

“There are people that are of age and they are able to know and decide for themselves and what is good and what is wrong,” Leiataua said.

The last time Leiataua decided to ban a film with homosexual sexual content in it was 2009, when he banned Milk, the story of American gay activist Harvey Milk who eventually became California's first openly gay elected official.

Leiataua said the two films were “more or less the same” in terms of why they were banned.

“He was a successful individual and he made his way from the bottom to the top,” the censor acknowledged.

“But it’s not good for our Samoan culture. We have laws and we value our culture and our Christian beliefs.”

The Samoa Censorship Board and Ministry of Justice Courts and Administration stressed they “have nothing against” homosexuals or fa’afafine, Leiataua said.

“We are just doing our job, and censoring film according to the criteria and classifications of our office," he said.

“We have no hard feelings towards anyone, or saying we have anything against human rights.”

By Sapeer Mayron, 10 June 2019

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