Elton John Biopic ‘Rocketman’ Banned in Samoa
The country’s population, which is 97 percent Christian, is generally considered conservative and traditional. In explaining the decision, the nation’s principal censor, Leiataua Niuapu Faaui, told the Samoa Observer that Rocketman was banned because it clashed with Samoa’s “culture and our Christian beliefs.”
Niuapu Faaui admitted the movie had “a good story, in that it’s about an individual trying to move on in life.” John "went through a difficult family life and managed to move on and become very successful," the censor further opined, "but there are acts that are not good for public viewing and against the law.”
The ban has stirred controversy in the small island nation of approximately 196,000 people. Human-rights activists are accusing the government of "selective morality," pointing to the censorship board's approval of the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody as an example of its hypocrisy. “Maybe the censor board didn’t know that our main man Freddie Mercury was gay, so I guess that’s a good thing,” cultural expert Toleafoa Chris Solomona joked in a conversation with The Guardian.
As for Rocketman, this isn't the first international road block for the biopic. Filmmakers were extremely critical of a Russian distributor that cut more than five minutes of content from the movie, citing that country’s laws against "homosexual propaganda."
Still, these controversies haven't stopped the film from becoming a hit in the U.S. and abroad. Rocketman recently eclipsed $100 million at the worldwide box office, already becoming one of the Top 10 music biopics of all time.