Some television viewers in Asia are angry after the annual Academy Awards broadcast in the region censored the words “gay” and “lesbian” from acceptance speeches.
Pan-Asian satellite TV network STAR carried the glitzy Hollywood ceremony in full during the live telecast — held in Los Angeles on Sunday evening, but seen Monday morning in Asia.
However, viewers who watched subsequent repeat broadcasts noticed that the sound periodically disappeared during the acceptance speeches of Oscar winners Dustin Lance Black and Sean Penn, the screenwriter and lead actor of the drama Milk, respectively.
In his speech, debut screenwriter Black paid tribute to the film’s subject, slain San Francisco politican and gay-rights pioneer Harvey Milk.
The best original screenplay Oscar winner also sent a message “to all the gay and lesbian kids out there … you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value, and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you.”
When Penn took the stage towards the end of the show, the forthright actor criticized those protesting gay marriage outside the Kodak Theatre on Oscar night and also the Californians who recently voted to ban gay marriage.
“For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think it’s a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect on their great shame and their shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that support,” Penn said.
Malaysian arts commentator Pang Khee Teik published a letter voicing his outrage at STAR’s awards gala censorship.
“As a gay man, I am truly offended,” he said, adding that the action sends the message “that gays and lesbians are still shameful things to be censored from the public’s ears.”
Complaints about the altered Oscar speeches also drew criticism online, including in internet forums in India and Singapore.
STAR spokeswoman Jannie Poon defended the action, saying that while there was no intention of upsetting viewers, the company has “a responsibility to take the sensitivities and guidelines of all our markets into consideration.”