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STAR Censors Black, Penn In Asian Oscar Broadcast

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire February 26, 2009 at 12:2AM

"I think whenever something like that happens, it's indicative of where a significant problem lies," Dustin Lance Black told indieWIRE regarding pan-Asian satellite TV network STAR's decision to censor the Academy Award acceptance speeches of both Black and Sean Penn in fifty different Asian nations.
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"I think whenever something like that happens, it's indicative of where a significant problem lies," Dustin Lance Black told indieWIRE regarding pan-Asian satellite TV network STAR's decision to censor the Academy Award acceptance speeches of both Black and Sean Penn in fifty different Asian nations.

Earlier today, The Associated Press reported that Asian viewers who watched repeat broadcasts (the live broadcast was not censored, but aired early in the morning there), noticed that the sound periodically cut out during the speeches.

This section of Black's speech muted out the words "gay" and "lesbian" on Asian television screens:

"I wanna thank my mom, who has always loved me for who I am even when there was pressure not to. But most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, by the government or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally, across this great nation of ours. Thank you. Thank you. And thank you, God, for giving us Harvey Milk.”

For Penn, it was the word "gay" in front of 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."

"What I think is great about this is how the gay communities there responded," Black said, referencing Malaysian arts commentator Pang Khee Teik, who published a letter against STAR's awards gala censorship. "'As a gay man, I am truly offended," Teik said in the letter, adding that the action sends the message "that gays and lesbians are still shameful things to be censored from the public's ears."

AP's Sean Yoong continued to report that "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.'

STAR is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.