Warning: This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker.
SINGAPORE — Disney has cut a scene from Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker that depicts same-sex kissing for its screening in Singapore.
Responding to queries from Yahoo Lifestyle SEA, a spokesperson from the media regulatory agency, the Infocomm Media Development Authority, said in a statement today (20 December), “Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker has been rated PG13 for theatrical release in Singapore. The applicant has omitted a brief scene which under the Film Classification Guidelines would require a higher rating.”
The Rise Of Skywalker, the last film of the nine-episode Star Wars saga that has enthralled fans since 1977, was released globally this week and opened in Singapore cinemas yesterday (read our review here).
In the uncensored version of the film, two women are seen embracing and kissing on the lips in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene featuring Resistance troops. In the cut version screened in Singapore, the two women are not seen kissing.
The characters are the minor roles of Commander Larma D’Acy, played by Amanda Lawrence (who last appeared in The Last Jedi), and her wife, who is unnamed in the film but, according to the film’s companion reference book, Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary, is a fighter pilot called Wrobie Tyce.
A PG13 rating means parental guidance is recommended for children below 13. The other age-specific ratings are NC16 (No Children Under 16), M18 (Mature 18) and R21 (Restricted 21).
Yahoo Lifestyle SEA has reached out to Disney for comment. Disney owns Lucasfilm, the studio that produces the Star Wars films.
J.J. Abrams, the director of The Rise Of Skywalker, had told Variety previously, “In the case of the LGBTQ community, it was important to me that people who go to see this movie feel that they’re being represented in the film.”
Because of Singapore’s censorship policy, positive media portrayals of LGBTQ people and characters are rare or censored. Organisers of a Les Miserables musical in 2016 had to cut a scene in which two male actors kissed after members of the public complained.
Sex between men is illegal in Singapore under section 377A of the Penal Code, punishable with up to two years in prison upon conviction. The government has said it would not actively enforce this law and only keeps the law as a symbolic stance to reflect Singapore’s conservative society. The law, inherited from the British during colonial rule, does not apply to sex between women.
The Hollywood Reporter said that the United Arab Emirates, and likely the rest of the Middle East, also censored the same-sex kiss. However, China, also known for being conservative in its censorship policy, allowed uncensored screenings of The Rise Of Skywalker.
The kiss is the first acknowledgement of LGBTQ characters in the Star Wars film franchise. While some fans have praised the film’s inclusion of queer characters, others criticised the studio’s tokenism, passing off a throwaway scene as “queer representation”. In recent years, blockbuster movies have engaged in what critics call queer-baiting, where minor LGBT characters are written into films so that the studios can boast inclusiveness.
Hollywood giant Marvel Studios, which is also a Disney subsidiary, has stated its commitment to greater diversity in the next phase of its movies. The bisexual character of Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, will feature an LGBTQ storyline in the upcoming film Thor: Love And Thunder.