Rocketman is a glorious celebration of Elton John’s life. Unsurprisingly, that includes frequent references to the singer’s sexuality, which is a part of his public identity.
Well, unless you’re in Russia. Russian censors have cut significant swathes from Rocketman’s narrative, removing references to Elton John’s gay relationships. That isn’t limited to the film’s sex scene, or same sex kisses - it also includes the references to Elton’s real-life happy ending, raising kids with the love of his life, David Furnish.
It’s a pretty disgraceful state of affairs, and it’s proven to be an unpopular decision among Russian critics, with one commentating that he felt he'd "woken up in Saudi Arabia" (another country notorious for its strict censorship rules).
According to Russian distributor Central Partnership, "The film was indeed edited to meet the requirements of Russian law.” Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry Of Culture blames the distributor for the decision to cut.
Whatever the truth of the matter, the issue is connected to the Russian federal law ‘for the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values’ which is also known as the ‘gay propaganda law’ and the ‘anti-gay law’ in English-language countries.
The law bans "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships" among minors, an offence punishable by fines.
This includes materials that "raises interest in" such relationships; cause minors to "form non-traditional sexual predispositions"; or "[present] distorted ideas about the equal social value of traditional and non-traditional sexual relationships."
What’s especially confusing about the Rocketman story (outside of the fact this law exists at all) is that the film is rated 18 in Russian, which means it shouldn’t be legally accessible to minors.
The decision is sure to have an impact on Rocketman’s Russian box office, with tech-savvy fans likely to turn to illegal downloading in order to see the uncut film, which would be more bad news for the industry.
It’s just a sad situation all around. And we don’t want to be in the room when Elton finds out!