SBS has received criticism for their removal of the homosexual kiss scenes during their holiday broadcast of Bohemian Rhapsody.
Over the Lunar New Year holiday, many broadcast stations in Korea air popular movies for families to watch together over the holiday. Especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic, where families are urged to stay at home and reunite virtually instead of in person, these movie events held by broadcast stations are attempting to keep people indoors.
This year, SBS aired Bohemian Rhapsody on Saturday, February 13 at 8:40 pm KST—right in the middle of primetime where many families would sit at home together after dinner to watch television. Their broadcast claimed the highest viewer ratings of all broadcast stations, peaking at 7.1% and averaging 6.3%.
However, viewers who watched both the theatrical release and SBS’s broadcast noticed several homosexual kiss scenes were removed from the television broadcast.
At least three scenes were altered, with two kiss scenes between Freddie Mercury (played by Rami Malek) and Jim Hutton (Aaron McCusker) were completely removed. A third scene, where two male extras engaged in a kiss in the background, was also blurred out.
Netizens commented on the removal and editing of the scenes, criticizing the broadcast station and accusing them of censoring sexual minorities.
- “They thought it was more important to have high viewer ratings… [homosexuality] isn’t a hateful thing where it’s less important than what a few people don’t want to see.”
- “SBS, you cut out all the gay kiss scenes in the movie, but since you couldn’t cut out the extras, you put an mosaic over them just like you do with cigarettes…”
- “This is just insulting and censoring sexual minorities at this point.”
- “SBS, in the future, you should be editing out all scenes in movies that are rated 15+ that show romance, kissing, or sex from now on, even between males and females, okay?”
- “I don’t understand SBS. How can you edit a movie however you want to? What did you want to achieve by editing a homosexual kiss scene? Bohemian Rhapsody isn’t a concert-movie, it’s a biographical movie about Freddie Mercury’s life. He was gay. Can’t gay people kiss?”
SBS commented on the removal of the scenes, claiming there were “no special intentions.” They claim the decision was made simply to make sure it wasn’t “uncomfortable” for families to watch together.
It was edited after serious and careful consideration that it was a Lunar New Year special film broadcast by a public broadcast station to viewers 15+ in the evening. There were no special intentions.
Just like how we arbitrarily edit overly violent or smoking scenes when movies are on a public broadcast channel, Bohemian Rhapsody was a movie where an entire family can watch together during the holiday, and the skinship scenes were edited out. We wanted to focus on the fact it is a music-based movie that families could watch together during the holiday.
The kiss scenes were very long. For the blurred scene, it was while music was playing, so we couldn’t edit out the scene entirely. Even if it was a kiss scene between a man and a woman, if it continues for a long time or is too risque that it could make viewers feel uncomfortable, we would have edited it out the same.
If we really opposed homosexuality, we wouldn’t have aired the movie at all.