Barbados Film Censorship Board bans Black Swan

UPDATED: February 23, 2011

Censors decide adult Bajans mature enough to see Lesbian Love scene.

Ahhhh… but if the scene involved two men… what then?

The old folks at the Film Censorship Board are so predictable.

Details at Barbados Today: Green Light for Black Swan

BFP’s original article…

We don’t know if the ballet horror film Black Swan was banned for violence, sex or a combination of the two. Ho hum. It will be out on satellite or DVD before you know it.

Sure, we have to have standards over what is shown in public, but when adults pay their money and walk into the Olympus Theatre to see a film that they know might offend some, that’s hardly the place for normal government intervention or regulation. It is true that no freedom is absolute and there must be reasonable exceptions and limits (snuff films, child porn etc.), but unless there is something I’m not seeing here, Black Swan doesn’t look like a place for the Film Censorship Board to make a stand.

When I think of what unsupervised children can accidentally see on the Internet just by typing a few words into Google, the Film Censorship Board looks more and more like a dinosaur enjoying itself on the morning that the big meteor hit.


Filed under Barbados, Culture & Race Issues, Ethics

49 responses to “Barbados Film Censorship Board bans Black Swan

  1. stephen

    Odd decision. There’s much less sex and violence than many films we’ve seen at our local cinemas.

  2. rasta man

    They must be seen to be doing something. Barbados still has a Film Censorship Board ?

  3. Joy

    I have seen Black Swan and there is nothing in the movie that justify banning. Plus a under sixteen would find the movie too boring to watch.

  4. Primitive

    Maybe government doesn’t like feathers.

  5. yatinkiteasy

    The film censorship board does not even understand the MPAA Rating system in use in the US. For example, most movies are released in the US with a “PG 13 “Rating. This means that parents should decide if their children 13 years or younger, should see the movie.(PG means Parental Guidance)
    These idiots at the Barbados Film Censorship Board, interpret PG 13 to mean, “no one under 13 is allowed to view the movie”.
    This must be very frustrating to Theatre Owners, and parents who wish to take their 10 and 12 year old kids to a perfectly acceptable movie ,(such as Indiana Jones Temple of Doom) but can`t because of these total Idiots who do not understand the rating system, and instead impose their own system on the citizens of Barbados. Its about time to revamp, boot out this totally useless Board.
    Besides, the very word “Censorship” gives me the creeps.This is not a Communist Country.

  6. Janine

    But yet they allow films like SAW!!!! Ass backward when dem ready

  7. Stephanie

    yeh, so after hearing this ridiculous announcement on the news this morning, I decided to download and watch Black Swan as soon as I got into the office. I watched it, start to finish, and I am STILL waiting to see WHY the censorship board banned this movie. We got the ENTIRE Saw series (one thru seven) which depicted horrific ways of killing people and which was EXTREMELY detailed but yet that was not something the censorship board stepped in and banned. The so- called “offensive sexual content” was what exactly? A lesbian scene? I firmly believe that people should be allowed to CHOOSE what they want to watch. If you don’t wish to see it, THEN DO NOT GO AND WATCH IT!! and if you are concerned about young people watching it… um HELLO!! that’s what movie ratings are about. Rate the picture as “R” and call that Wally!! Stupes!

  8. Bajan Leadpipe

    The decision of The Barbados Film Censorship Board must be respected. If in their well formed opinion, the movie Black Swan should not be shown in the Barbados public, accept their ruling!

    I am firm in my opinion that their ruling was not intended to “spoil your fun”. View the movie in the privacy of your home, when it comes out on satellite or DVD.

  9. Peltdownman

    @Bajan Leadpipe
    How do you define a “well formed(sic) opinion”? Perfect strangers about whom we know absolutely nothing are telling us, as free individuals, what we can and cannot watch. That is not democracy. That is not worthy of “the freest country in the world”.

  10. Hmmm

    What makes them my lord and master Bajan Leadpipe? Who appoints the board?
    I think they owe the public more of an explanation than just ” Offensive sexual behaviour” If that is the case, why allow the showing of Brokeback Mountain, why allow the showing of ANY film with sexual imagery?

    Nope their decision reeks of hypocrisy, which should be expected as Barbados is a society that condemns some behaviours publicly but behind closed doors…

    Instead of being an open society with open discussion we choose to hide and bury issues in the sand. That will be our downfall.

  11. Graham

    Just for the record, just because children can view material that might be considered offensive over the internet isn’t any kind of reason for the Board to just give up and stop doing their job. I know it’s something like shutting the stable door after the horse has already got loose, but that doesn’t mean that you just stop trying to protect people.

    Not that I in any way agree with their decision to ban this film, especially after so many other movies got by despite lacking any kind of redeeming artistic quality whatsoever. The modern world is a funny place, where any kind of violent act is fair game for portrayal in the media, but sexuality is still a serious taboo.

  12. Jumbie

    Good idea BFCB! Ban that film! And have Olympus show that you intstructed them to ban that film! Great idea!

    Soon, EVERY MAN JACK in Barbados will have downloaded and watched the film to see what all the fuss was about. Job well done!

  13. not me

    Iffy movies not for me – scrawl my skin.

    BUT isn’t it double standards when a Minister in Government namely Donville Inniss makes money from selling porn Internationally via the Internet? and there is not a Body or a Board to ban him or call him out. His peers are not saying peep.

    Bare nonsense, no pun intended!

  14. Artemis

    let me get this straight…

    they banned a movie about the horrors of being the star of a ballet troupe and the psychotic behaviors that follow it?

    buuuut a few months ago i watched a movie in the cinema about this guy who was running around slicing dicing yanking pulling sawing generally dismembering human beings … and it wasnt even … well… i mean it wasnt even a dream movie… they characters were actually portrayed to be cock up and dead …

    years ago they let broke back mountain in… it was up to the public to decide it we were going to watch it or not…

    where exactly did this board come from again?

  15. amazing movie

    This is a very disturbing movie dealing with psychosis and reality. Once you get through these issues, it is truly an amazing movie and brilliantly executed. Nice promotion Film Board.


    This is laughable at best. I’ve seen films more capable of degrading public morals shown.

  17. EmmS

    I really have to wonder about the purpose of the “Barbados Board of Film Censors”
    I mean… seriously?…
    There is actually a government institution that watches movies and then deems them as either appropriate or not…
    How do you get a job on the Board? 😉
    Sounds like *another* waste of taxpayer’s money to me!

  18. Anon

    With the recent rise in suicides a movie which ends in a suicide might not be the ideal thing at this time. I suspect that might be the case, along with the vivid lesbian act.

  19. Politically Tired

    Its already on pirated dvd’s on sale here!

  20. Harry

    The Barbados Film Censorship Board is a disgrace and a waste of taxpayer money. Recent mad decisions – Black Swan banned, “2012” – given PG13 in the States was General Admission down here so that all the little kiddies could enjoy watching the world coming to an end; “Little Fockers” – PG13 in the States – is PG here etc; etc; Do they even watch the movies? Anything with a hint of “witchcraft”, even if it is a kid’s movie, is automatically R or PG-13 – input from the cleric on board. (And if they are doing their job, why do they allow the Drive-In to show trailers for R-rated movies during a kids double feature?)
    If the current government are serious about cutting expenditure in this difficult times this unelected committee, who are remunerated for their stupidity, must be the first to go. Let’s use the US Ratings – at least they are consistent.

  21. MoronBoard

    One sees worse at crop over, with pictures displayed in last years paper of some young boy wukking up behind some hard back woman.

    So, crop over wuk up good, ballet wuk up not.

    Guh down, guh down. Guh down.

  22. Hmmm

    February 17, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    With the recent rise in suicides a movie which ends in a suicide might not be the ideal thing at this time. I suspect that might be the case, along with the vivid lesbian act.”

    Firstly what happened in the film was NOT suicide so to make that assumption is way way off base. Furthermore I think what happens in the film is a warning to people as to how fragile the human psyche really is. So to hide it away from the masses is really doing us a disservice.

    Secondly, the reasoning given was “Obscene sexual behaviour” as mentioned in the Barbados Today Newspaper. Now if that is the real reason they have painted themselves into a corner after showing Brokeback Mountain, and Monsters Ball ( Halle berry and Billy Bob Thorntons raunchy as hell sex scene nudity included).

  23. Hey All, there is a petition going on to get this decision reversed and to change how the board implements film ratings. Please read, and sign if you are sympathetic.

  24. Johnnycomelastly

    ”the vivid lesbian act.”

    Stupse. The children who get to see it every day in the school bathrooms wont miss it, so you only stopping us fellas from seeing it, who never see it.

    DVD going sell tho. Thanks for letting us know its vivid. Get the fellas together, get the beers and DVD…here we go!

  25. Johnny Postle

    This is the type of shite that does make me vex is shite. All of a sudden the board wake up and someone tell them to act.? I know that they have been movies watched in this country (which I cannot remember at the moment) that would make Blackswan look like a fairy tale. Oh yeah you remember Brokeback Mountain. Why the heck did they not ban that. Chuuuuuuuuuuuupse.

  26. Queen Victoria said she had no problems with homosexuals but couldn’t imagine lesbians existing. “Nice” to see her attitude still exists in some parts of the world.

  27. stephen

    The best point made here is to restrict the trailers when a kid’s film is being shown. I have cringed and hidden my seven year old’s eyes when trailers for saw 5 come up half way through the trailers section.

  28. champagne

    I don’t even know where to start. What a bunch of shite!!!!! You mean to tell me that the Gov’t of Barbados is deciding what I, as a mature right-thinking member of society, cannot decide for my self what I can or can’t watch. Is this a democratic country in 2011??? Just got added on the list of “developed countries”??? Seriously???? And don’t tell me about coming out on DVD or satellite, I should have the choice to watch the movie I want to watch ON THE BIG SCREEN when it first hits theatres. I don’t do bootleg, by the time that comes out on DVD/cable the whole ending would have been spoiled for me. What next, banning people from holding hands in public, women from wearing skirts above the knee, why don’t they go ahead and ban ppl from wearing bikinis at the beach, that clearly is an affront to public morals! PUH LEASE! If they really want to go down that road what they should really ban is these retarded young boys forcing themselves into their lil sister’s skinny jeans that so tight they cant get them pulled up above their ass and got the poor balls suffocating. Having to see them on a daily basis is really an offense to the public. And leave my DAMN MOVIES ALONE!

  29. Passion of the Jew

    Let’s not forget they allowed children to go watch the snuff film “Passion of the Christ” which way worse than any SAW movie.

    Get rid of the waste of tax money Censorship Board! Shouldn’t it be a rating board and not a censorship board?

    Most importantly we need to get rid of them before they try to take away my internet porn!


    Just bought a copy from the local DVD pirate for a couple of bucks. Might as well try to ban rum.

  31. bajandave

    Regardless of the rating a movie is given, and whatever it is the Film Censorship Board does (I only hear about them when they actually ban something, not otherwise) are there measures in place to police the theatre owners? They are the ones who should ensure that children under 12 are not allowed in to see movies with a PG-13 or above rating, and should not show ‘cuts’ from R-rated movies when a movie geared towards children is the featured presentation.

  32. “The best point made here is to restrict the trailers when a kid’s film is being shown.”

    That’s what they do here in Britain where all the trailers have to be appropriate for the film being shown. In America they have red-band and green-band trailers, with the red-band ones going with older audiences (“The following trailer has been approved for all audiences… The film advertised has been rated PG”).

  33. Crusoe

    Here is a review from the London Telegraph. After reading the review, it might seem clear that this may have less to do with the sex scene per se, more to do with psyscological issues being depicted.

    ‘Conservative bajans’ might cringe at seeing the depiction, of severe mental and emotional trauma portrayed, usually in Barbados such is hidden.

    I think THAT may be the issue. Seems a powerful movie, I will watch it, maybe this weekend.

    Here is the article:

    Black Swan, review
    Natalie Portman – widely tipped for Oscar glory – delivers a startling performance as a ballerina cracking under the pressure of her latest role . Rating: * * * * *
    Dancing on the edge of sanity
    2 By Sukhdev Sandhu 4:15PM GMT 20 Jan 2011
    DIr: Darren Aronofsky; starring: Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey.

    15 cert., 108 min

    Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan is delirious hokum, high-class trash, the best movie Ken Russell never made. Less a follow-up and more a companion piece to The Wrestler, another grimy exploration of the emotional toil and physical hardship that goes into the making of popular entertainment, I found myself, especially towards its frenzied close, becoming a laughter-geyser: exploding at the uninhibited chutzpah of every over-the-top scene, at myself for the state of quivering breathlessness into which I’d been driven, and out of sheer delight at the prospect of seeing the film again.

    Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is a young dancer with the New York City Ballet who is preparing for a production of Swan Lake choreographed by the charismatic Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel). He’s looking for a lead to replace ailing star Beth (Winona Ryder). She must possess the virginal grace of the White Swan, but also the elemental passion of the Black Swan. Nina, he believes, lacks the latter; she is too poised, too much in control. The implication – is it a promise or a warning? – is clear: if she’s to land the role she covets, she must be willing to untether herself.

    Being French, Leroy’s suggestion comes with a kiss. Nina bites him. It’s a promising sign, he thinks, and immediately installs her as the Swan Queen. But what should be the run-up to her finest hour quickly turns into a nightmare. Nina keeps having visual hallucinations, the many mirrors of the dance studio multiplying and assailing her self-identity. Her anxieties about whether she’s good enough; her growing paranoia that another dancer, the more naturally expressive Lily (Mila Kunis), is plotting to take her role; the borderline-schizophrenia induced by the doubleness of her character: soon she’s not so much untethered as unhinged.

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    Are we meant to feel sorry for her? Not at all. Her pain is our gain. After Lily, with whom she goes out clubbing, slips Ecstasy into her drink, she ends up necking random strangers in the toilet, before going home and having passionate sex with Lily. She visits a hospitalised Beth to return items she’d taken from her changing room only for the distraught woman to stab herself through the cheeks with a file. In the home she shares with her overbearing mother, Erica (Barbara Hershey), all the hysterical, Munch-style paintings start to writhe and shriek.

    Is any of this true? Lily says she bedded some guy from the club; Nina leaves the hospital holding a bloody file; paintings are not megaphones. Aronofsky and his three screenwriters – Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin – pile on lashings of psychological thriller, exploitation horror (at Leroy’s suggestion, Nina cultivates her passionate side by taking up masturbation), and pulpy theories about the relationship between art and fantasy. The result is that we can never be sure of what we’re seeing.

    Are those really feathers growing out of Nina’s back? Are her feet really becoming webbed? This kind of Cronenbergian bodyhorror should revolt us. But its absurdity – and the literalness with which this absurdity is depicted – turns out to be delightful. Even Lily seems elated at the idea that she had phantasmal sex with Nina: “Was I good?” she asks eagerly. Literalness is meant to be a mark of naivety and inexperience, something that children grow out of as they become adults; part of Black Swan’s genius is to remind us of how much more vivid and dramatic the world can seem without the filter of metaphor.

    Portman, in as demanding a role as she’s ever played, gives an impressive rendition of an actual ballet dancer. But it’s her face as much as her steps that most compel: her eyes and fleeting smile move from eagerness to brittleness to exhaustion – and back again in a flash. Hershey is terrifying as a clingy, possibly incestuous mother whose reassuring smile recalls illustrations from 19th-century fairytale books. Ryder and Kunis, in their different ways, offer giddy, gleeful performances, while Cassel is delightfully Frenchy-French, his Puss-in-Boots swagger accompanied by a surprisingly fey giggle.

    The film scores in the friction it creates between style and content, between its social-realist aesthetics – hand-held cameras; grainy, sometimes under-lit photography; dogged, behind-shoulder tracking of Nina in the manner of a Dardennes brothers film – and its lurid, Grand Guignol story. Clint Mansell’s score, which torques and digitally reassembles Tchaikovsky’s original music, is an equally bold meshing of modern and classical that’s particularly effective at evoking Nina’s near-subliminal soundworld.

    Early on, talking about his decision to stage Swan Lake, Leroy admits it’s a ballet that’s “Done to death, I know, but not like this.” He wants, he says, to “make it visceral, make it real”. Black Swan may not be the most profound statement about ballet, but, more often than not, it feels claustrophobically, clammily visceral. At the same time, it’s so high on its own excesses that it makes Powell and Pressburger’s The Red Shoes seem positively restrained – and Aronofksy as if he’s barely in control of his material.

    This kind of euphoric, unstable filmmaking is a rare commodity. It’s fundamentally silly, but silliness with passion and conviction, silliness of such relentless, giddying abandon, silliness so fervently played out that it approaches a barmy transcendence.

  34. Micah

    I understand the need to keep some movies shown in a public forum away from children if the subject matter is not appropriate for them. And there is some subject matter which is generally reprehensible such as child pornography which should never be shown on a public screen, or a private one for that matter. While I have not seen Black Swan, I have heard enough about it to wonder what it could possibly have in that I as an adult should be prevented from seeing it. It has been reported that there is a lesbian scene in it involving two adult females. I cannot believe that justifies the banning of a whole movie, and certainly not a movie being shown in 2011. I hope the Film Censorship Board makes a public statement to explain their thinking on this matter, and reassure us all that we are not being treated to a return to Victorian Ages policy, or an experiment in communist government information and ideas control.

  35. Anon



  36. Pingback: Barbados Film Censorship Board bans Black Swan (via Barbados Free Press) « Monnow Man

  37. PrettyPolly

    Having watched the movie I believe the censors banned it because it is crap, and they wished to spare the good folks of Bim from such foolishness…..I wish somebody would have pulled the movie before it went on general release 😉

  38. Dessalines

    I do not agree with adult censorship of any kind but to play devils advocate I would suggest that the film was probably banned because of it’s subliminal message that the WHITE swan is all good and the BLACK swan is evil .. I remember in France/Italy when Spike Lee’s film ‘Miracle at St. Anna’s’ was released, there were numerous calls to ban the film on account of it’s (get this) ‘historical inaccuracies’ …. some cultures are very self concious about their history and other cultures (not calling any names) are not, and even go as far as to outsource the telling of their story ‘history’ to others who relish the opportunity to denigrate and belittle.. i.e the Godfather is hailed as a masterpiece in the film industry and the general populace , however if you replace the word ‘blacks’ with the word jews, white, italians etc in the scene where blacks are described as animals in whose communities the drugs should be sold.. the Godfather would have never enjoyed the success it has ..sadly its the black hip hop culture which has helped make this film a phenonemon..

  39. “I would suggest that the film was probably banned because of it’s subliminal message that the WHITE swan is all good and the BLACK swan is evil”

    Oh, please.

  40. CGM

    I didn’t realise the film was being broadcast in a public square where every Barbadian citizen is forced to watch it. Absolute nonsense. I am offended by the decision and seriously question the intelligence and motivations of this ‘board’.

  41. Nicola

    Why are some people assuming why the film was banned, the paper clearly stated the reason “inappropraite sexual content” in other words to women screwing is to much for the delicate sensibilities of poor God fearing, morally correct Barbadians, what a load of shit! My, my film censorship board your homophobic slip is showing!

  42. Marvin Bareback

    If you’re old enough to elect a government, you should be old enough to watch whatever movies you want…..stop this overregulated nanny government from interfering with our basic freedoms please!

  43. i agree with no name wiv

    just what i thought.. muslims are everwhere in bim..censorship,molesting little girls, battering women// i agree with wiv.. who invite these people here ?

  44. The man wiv no name!!

    Further caving- in to the proliferation of filth! What will it be next – animals?!!

  45. The man wiv no name!!

    My advice would be not to waste your good money going to see the filth. I’ve certianly no intention of doing so – and wont. Mind you, given the lamentable state of cinema these days, it’ll probably win 10 oscars next year! LOL!

  46. Hmmm

    The man wiv no name!! I bet you watch Days of Our Lives ….

  47. The man wiv no brain!!!

    De Muslims behine dis filth, heah? An i rite like dis to cover up de fac dat i can no rite any udder way. i an eejat heah!!?? but if wunnah, mash up, monkey tail, flyin fish, wunnah, Swan Street in olden daze … trails off into complete subliterate incoherence …

  48. Hmmm

    Okay then…took ur meds today Wiv?

  49. joyjoy

    It is amazing how people love smut and like to justify watching and listening to it. To many people Riannah or how ever you spell it can do nothing wrong. She could skin up, wuk up, cock up expose sheself “it is her body and she is the best thing Barbados ever produce.” If any body say this is lewd or indecent they are being judgemental and old fashioned and they are “attacking her” . Anything goes. This show is no different there will always be people rooting for it because smut is the in thing. – but still it is the women who get disadvantaged watch and see.