'Syriana,' 'Brokeback' Fall Victim To Arab MPAA

Syriana was not exactly a tourism commercial for the United Arab Emirates, unless of course your idea of a vacation is to retrace a girthy, bearded George Clooney's footsteps through a global military-petro-industrial conspiracy. After a four month review, UAE government censors have decided to release the film, minus two minutes of what they consider to be objectionable material. Still, that's nothing compared to the 134-minute edit they made to Brokeback Mountain:

Missing from the UAE version were scenes showing mistreatment of Asian workers in the Gulf, and references to Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and a late Saudi king. [...]

As for "Brokeback Mountain", a story of two male cowboys falling in love in the conservative American West, its Beirut-based distributor, Italia Films, said it had dropped plans to try to show the movie in the Gulf after discussing its taboo topic with concerned ministries and receiving negative feedback. [...]

Homosexuality is a serious offence in the Gulf, punishable by flogging and imprisonment. In February, 11 men were sentenced to six years in jail in the UAE after a raid on a gay party in a desert hotel.

As Brokeback continues its banned world tour, we're once again reminded how premature it was to declare this the International Year of the Gay. Imagine how much harder your clandestine, gay Oscar bunker party would have sucked if moments after Crash was declared Best Picture, you heard a loud knocking and the angry shouts of a Middle Eastern vice squad at the desert crawlspace door.