Oh look, just when you thought we couldn’t regress further as a country, some entity decides to take up the challenge. The latest is Lebanon’s Ministry of Economy deciding, at the very last minute, to start the procedure to ban this summer’s blockbuster movie “Wonder Woman” because its lead actress Gal Gadot is Israeli.
As per a source, Wonder Woman has already passed all forms of regulations for it to get a screen date in Lebanon, which is this coming Thursday, including a very strict censorship bureau and other apparatuses who are more than willing to ax movies than to let them through. And yet, as in typical Lebanese fashion and because we definitely have our priorities in order, Lebanon’s government decided to rise up from its slumber and resist, even though the movie has been announced for over 3 years now.
Resist what? A movie about an iconic superhero who’s been part of pop culture for over 70 years. A movie in which the lead actress happens to be Israeli or has served in the IDF or who is part of an apartheid state, but who’s not portraying ANYTHING related to her “country” in any way whatsoever. A movie that has absolutely nothing to do with Israel in any way, where Israel is not even mentioned or alluded to, and in which the lead actress does nothing to even propagate the idea of her homeland. And yet, her mere existence has some people triggered beyond belief.
You’d think if they want their ban to make the least of sense, they’d have done it a year ago when the movie’s first trailer was released, not in the week of its release after it’s been given a green light, handling massive financial losses to the Lebanese company that won its distribution rights.
In a statement issued today (link in Arabic), Lebanon’s Ministry of Economy – I don’t even know how it’s their job to decide some movies should be censored – said the following:
- The ministry of Economy has already taken the necessary measures to make sure Gal Gadot’s previous movie, Batman v Superman, was not shown in Lebanese cinemas through a request to the General Directorate of Security dating 13/03/2016.
- The ministry has also sent a request to the BDS office in Damascus to add Gal Gadot’s name to a blacklist for boycott.
- On 21/04/2016, the Arab League issued a decree to ban any movie featuring Gal Gadot.
- On 29/05/2017, the ministry has issued a decree to the General Directorate of Security to start the necessary procedures to ban the movie’s screening.
I don’t know where the people governing us have been living, but Batman v Superman was not banned. In fact, I watched it on a big fat Lebanese screen and many applauded when Gal Gadot’s character came on screen because her character, which also happens to be Wonder Woman in that movie, is badass and worthy of the applause.
Gal Gadot’s was also featured in the Fast and Furious series, multiple times, all of which were not banned as well. Probably because more than a few government official as well as some of those turned up about banning Wonder Woman wanted to see Vin Diesel make those cars roar.
Who knows, maybe their problem isn’t with Gal Gadot being Israeli and having served in the IDF, both of which have no bearing on the movie in question, but rather because the movie features strong independent female characters which our patriarchy cannot propagate?
And let’s not begin with even listening to what the Arab League deems appropriate or not. If we went by anything that lot wanted, we’d be living in the darker ages they’re all enjoying so happily.
What’s next, though? Banning every single movie that dares to be associated in any way with Israel? Banning every actor or actress who’s set foot in Israel? Deciding not to show any feature film that has any entity that remotely agrees with anything Israel does? Why don’t we just ban ourselves from everything commercial in the world and be done with it?
Natalie Portman was born in Israel. No one has a problem with her movies. I’m willing to be those same people calling for Wonder Woman’s ban were more than excited to see Portman in the Star Wars reboot, way back when.
The fact of the matter is that if you have a problem with the content of a movie, the actor or actress leading it or anything pertaining to it, having it banned for everyone else is what’s wrong, not the fact that the actress in it happens to come from an enemy country whose existence we don’t acknowledge. Simply don’t go watch it. Don’t give it the word of mouth it needs. Don’t give it your hard-earned money, call for a boycott, but you sure as hell have no right in making sure no one else gets to watch it too.
The fact that, in the week of Wonder Woman’s release worldwide, the Lebanese media cycle is about the possibility of banning the movie as our government remembers that this movie features an actress we don’t approve of, is sad. Where do we draw the line at what should be banned in this country because of its association with Israel? Or are we going to keep on cherry picking at battles without knowing how to pick them?
Even if they ban Wonder Woman, our government and those who support its decision seem to have forgotten that in the age of the internet, no movie is further than a couple of clicks away. I’m not surprised that they’re not even aware how futile their censorship attempts will be at preventing the propagation of whatever it is they don’t want to propagate.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll be making sure to watch Wonder Woman (if they keep her, and even if they don’t). Gal Gadot may be a shitty person and actress, but both are still not enough arguments to ban the movie. Just let me know, when you’re done with the hoopla, if you’ve freed Palestine by banning an irrelevant movie featuring an irrelevant actress with an irrelevant background to an irrelevant story, while Lebanon maintains its oppression of the Palestinians living here.