A couple of weeks ago, the Jennifer Lopez led film, Hustlers, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to rave reviews. Directed by Lorene Scafaria and inspired by Jessica Pressler’s viral New York Magazine article titled, ‘The Hustlers at Scores’, Hustlers centres around a crew of intelligent former strip club employees who team up to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients.
Critics who have seen the film suggest something “energetic,” “nuanced,” and “the kind of era-defining film that Hollywood didn’t know it needed.” Most reviewers, even the few who didn’t particularly like the film have praised Jennifer Lopez’s performance, claiming that she’s guaranteed to receive an Oscar nomination. The film currently has a 88% Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 7.44/10.
Unfortunately for Malaysians, we won’t be able to catch it in cinemas.
Until yesterday, the film was still set for a September 19 release in the country. However, things started to smell fishy when a special press screening/premiere which was supposed to be held last night (September 18) was cancelled a couple of hours prior. The film’s local distributor TGV Pictures sent word that Hustlers has been “postponed due to technical issues.” Translation: LPF (Film Censorship Board of Malaysia) had suddenly decided to wake up from their sleep to make our lives miserable, as they always do.
However, many still had hope. A postponement meant there was still a chance, right? Wrong. I just received word from TGV Pictures that “Hustlers is not sanctioned to release in Malaysia by the censor board.” The distributor also apologised for the inconvenienced caused and thanked everybody for their continued support.
Here’s my take (from an article I wrote a few months back):
Censorship is never the solution. It is never the answer. Art is meant for exploration and questioning. To broaden our perspective and make sense of the world around us. To provoke emotion and thought.
But since the government is hellbent on doing it anyway, one can’t help but wonder if traditional forms of censorship are still relevant in our current online climate?
Censorship is said to be done to “protect the security and public order” of the country. But the truth of the matter is, the content consuming and technological climate has changed drastically over the past decade or so making traditional and extreme forms of censorship pretty much redundant. It’s almost impossible to prevent the masses from accessing all sorts of content from various parts of the world.
From streaming platforms to illegal streaming/torrenting sites (we do not in any way shape or form support illegal content sharing/streaming/downloading. We’re merely highlighting the reality of our current climate), if people want to watch something, they can and they will.
Honestly, the only thing censorship/outright banning something accomplishes is giving the film free publicity. Two hours ago, the only people probably familiar with Hustlers were film buffs and friends of film buffs. Now? Oh LPF, you think you’ve put a proverbial blindfold around the eyes of Malaysians. Believe you me, all you’ve done is make everyone hungrier to watch the film.