Although Netflix is available in over 190 countries, its streaming catalogue varies greatly from region to region.
While this often comes down to licensing rights and business decisions, Netflix has just revealed nine instances where it has censored and removed content from a country’s catalogue per government request.
The streaming service revealed its censorship practice for the first time in the company’s new 9 page report on Environment Social Governance, which states the company will pull any piece of content from a country if it receives a written request from that country’s government to do so.
Here are the 9 instances of censorship that have taken place to date:
New Zealand – 1 film
The Bridge (2006)
Netflix says in 2015 it complied with a written demand from the New Zealand Film and Video Labelling Body to remove the documentary film The Bridge from the country’s streaming catalogue, as New Zealand had deemed the film ‘objectionable’.
The film offers a controversial and graphic look into the many ‘jumpers’ who take their life each year by jumping from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. While the documentary has garnered mixed reviews, some critics have described it as “a scenic snuff film” and possibly the “most morally loathsome film ever made”.
Vietnam – 1 film
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Netflix says it pulled Full Metal Jacket from the Vietnamese version of its streaming service in 2017, at the request of the Vietnamese Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information. The American made film, which was released shortly after the end of the Vietnam war, is seen by some as controversial for the way in which it depicts the Vietnamese.
Germany – 1 film
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Netflix says that in 2017 it complied with a written demand by the German Commission for Youth Protection to pull the classic black and white horror film, as it was a version banned in Germany. Strangely, we can’t seem to find Germany’s official rational for the decision anywhere.
The country has been known to exercise extreme censorship when it comes to any sort of Nazi themes or symbolism, but it’s unclear if that’s the issue with Night of the Living Dead. If we do find the reason, we’ll be sure to share it here.
Singapore – 3 films, 2 shows
The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
The Legend of 420 (2017)
The Last Hangover (2018) *Netflix Original
Disjointed (2017) *Netflix Original
Cooking on High (2018)
Singapore has been the most active government when it comes to censoring its Netflix content, as the Singapore Infocomm Media Development Authority has demanded the removal of 5 titles, over three separate occasions.
In 2018 it killed many Singaporean highs when it demanded the removal of Disjointed, Cooking on High, and The Legend of 420.
Marijuana use is viewed as an incredibly serious offence in the country, where simple possession penalties can include being caned and receiving up to 10 years in prison.
In 2019, Singapore demanded the removal of The Last Temptation of Christ, a movie banned in Singapore and heavily criticized by certain Christian groups for the artistic liberties it makes from its Bible inspired content.
In 2020, Singapore demanded that the Portuguese language The Last Hangover, a Netflix Original film, be removed for its comedic portrayal of a drunken Jesus.
Saudi Arabia – 1 episode from 1 show
Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj – Saudi Arabia (2018)
In early 2019, Netflix responded to a demand from the Saudi Communication and Information Technology Commission to remove episode 2 from season 1 of Patriot Act with comedian Hasan Minhaj.
The episode featured Minhaj questioning the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia, along with examining the country’s then recent assassination of journalist Jamal Kashoggi, which the Saudi government was trying to cover up.
Netflix says that it will continue to comply with government censorship requests as they are made, and that it will notify the public of said instances going forward.
Now, nobody go and give Donald Trump any ideas…