For as long as there have been movies, there’s been movie censorship. Films deemed too violent, too sexual, or just simply too controversial have often been banned in both the U.S. and abroad. Whatever your thoughts on censorship, banning a film for its violence or sex is at least understandable. But sometimes, censors’ decisions are a little bit harder to make sense of, especially when you combine American movies with foreign sensibilities. So here are 7 films that were banned overseas for reasons you might not have seen coming.
Fashion comedy Zoolander has the dubious honor of being banned in two separate countries for two entirely different reasons. In Iran, the film fell foul of laws banning homosexual content. Even though all the main characters are straight, the fashion world was all just a little too gay for Iranian authorities. That’s not what worried Malaysia when it too banned the film though — officials there were upset that the film included a plot to assassinate the Malaysian Prime Minister.
It’s easy to see a lot of reasons a religious country might take issue with Bruce Almighty, which not only depicts God, but gives his powers to a mortal man. Egyptian authorities had a very specific issue though: that Jim Carrey’s Bruce used those powers to grow Jennifer Aniston’s boobs.
This is undoubtedly one of the weirdest. Again, you might be able to guess a few reasons The Simpsons Movie might have picked up a ban in Myanmar, but you’re not likely to figure out that it was because all the characters were yellow. The country banned films containing the colors red and yellow, and understandably The Simpsons fell foul of the law.
There are lots of good reasons to ban Sex and the City 2 (mainly just common decency), but the United Arab Emirates put it down to a conflict of “cultural values.” What makes it noteworthy is that the film was actually set in Abu Dhabi, where it was banned, but couldn’t even film there — they had to use Morocco as a stand-in.
The third Hunger Games movie never made it to cinemas in Thailand after authorities became concerned it would be used to stir dissent. The franchise’s three-fingered salute became a real-life symbol of rebellion in the country, leading to a ban on the film — and even the gesture.
6. Zack & Miri Make a Porno
That’s not the only film Thai authorities have taken a dislike to. They weren’t fans of Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks’ comedy Zack & Miri Make a Porno not just because it was sexual, but because they were worried it was inspirational, and might spark a wave of teenagers crafting homemade porn.
Of course North Korea is on this list — though not for The Interview. Even weirder was their ban on disaster movie 2012, because then-leader Kim Jong-il had declared that a “lucky year” when the country would become a superpower, and a film where the earth was obliterated got in the way of the message a bit.