UAE and Saudi Arabia Prohibited the Showing of Across the Spider-Verse

After failing to meet censorship standards, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was prohibited from being released in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The widely anticipated animated movie won’t be shown in some Gulf countries, according to Saudi Cinema, which is run by the General Commission for Audiovisual Media.

According to the authority, the movie “contravenes the content controls in effect” and will not be released in local theaters.

“Out of our keenness on the safety of the content shown in cinemas, and our responsibility towards the viewers, we would like to point out that we will not permit or license any film that contradicts the content controls in force in the media system… and its implementing regulations, unless the production companies commit to implementing the required amendments,” the statement posted on social media.

Many have hypothesized that the agency’s decision to forbid the release was motivated by the movie’s fleeting depiction of a pro-trans flag.

Fans have also claimed that the Gwen persona is transsexual.

Censorship Backlash

The General Commission for Audiovisual Media received harsh criticism on Twitter over their decision, with one user writing: “Grow up people are going to be LGBTQ no matter how many sanctions you put the best thing you should do is let them be open and accept them suppressing people won’t stop queer people we deserve to be seen and deserve a voice we have been around forever.”

Another said: “People wondering why #PrideMonth is important, this is why. It’s not just about pride in America; it’s the world.”

A third commented: “Banning a movie over a flag that you see for five seconds is crazy.”

It follows Pixar‘s Lightyear, which was prohibited in Saudi Arabia last year because to its depiction of a same-sex kiss and homosexual undertones.

The movie, which is situated in the same universe as Toy Story, features a kissing sequence between a female character and Alisha Hawthorne, who is voiced by Orange Is the New Black actor Uzo Aduba.

The distribution of the movie was also outlawed in other Middle Eastern countries, including Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

Far From Celebrating Pride Month

According to a tweet from the UEA, “The office confirms that all films screened in cinemas across the country are subject to follow-up and evaluation before the date of screening to the public, to ensure the safety of the circulated content according to the appropriate age classification.”

Due to Gulf censorship limiting LGBTQI+ narratives, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, West Side Story, and Eternals had also been banned.

Overall, the banning of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates highlights the continued censorship and restrictions on LGBTQI+ narratives in the Gulf region. 

The decision has drawn criticism from fans who argue for inclusivity and acceptance. Similar instances, such as the prohibition of Lightyear in Saudi Arabia last year, demonstrate a recurring pattern of limiting diverse representations in media. 

The ban not only restricts artistic freedom but also perpetuates a lack of visibility and understanding for marginalized communities. It underscores the importance of advocating for LGBTQI+ rights globally and promoting diverse storytelling.