Last September, we reported that the critically acclaimed film, Hustlers has been banned in Malaysia. The Jennifer Lopez starrer was supposed to be released on 19 September 2019. However, later, we received word that the film was not sanctioned to release in Malaysia by the censor board (LPF). In other words, the film was banned. According to LPF, scenes featuring naked breasts, erotic dances and drugs made it “unsuitable for public screening.”
Interestingly enough, while I was scrolling through the TGV Cinemas app last night, I noticed something peculiar. Click on the ‘coming soon’ icon on the app and you’ll notice something oddly similar to Hustlers being advertised as The Wall Street Girls. The reason it looks oddly similar is because it’s the exact same movie, just rebranded as something else.
Naturally, I tried to do some digging. Has the ban been lifted? Has the censor board suddenly become liberal? Is freedom of expression finally a real thing in Malaysia? Should I get the cake and fireworks ready?
Nope. Let’s not fool ourselves.
I’ve learned that Hustlers / The Wall Street Girls, still may not get a Malaysian release. Although it’s currently being advertised on the TGV cinemas app and on Cinema Online for a 6 Feb 2020 release, nothing is finalised as of this writing.
I think we can deduce that even if the film does grace the big screens in Malaysia, it will not be the original unadulterated vision of director Lorene Scafaria. Worst case scenario, it will be heavily censored with jarring cuts like a lot of rated-R films (with nude, semi-nude, erotic scenes) that come to Malaysia usually are. Best case scenario, the censor board treats the film the way they did The Shape of Water in 2018, in which the supposed “inappropriate” scenes aren’t cut out completely but blurred out and zoomed in.
Either way, censorship, especially censorship of the art, is regressive.
Hustlers follows a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients. The film is inspired by the article published by New York Magazine entitled “The Hustlers at Scores” written by Jessica Pressler. Jennifer Lopez received a Golden Globe nomination for her brilliant performance in the film.