No Austin Powers for Malaysians, Censors Declare

Austin Powers, the swinging secret agent, is too risqué for Malaysians, censors in that country have decided. The International Man of Mystery's latest comic misadventure, The Spy Who Shagged Me, is too full of sexual innuendoes for the conservative Muslim nation. The ban applies not only to the theatrical release, but to videotapes, discs, and TV broadcasts as well.

"That's censorship," was the straightforward response of Information Minister Khalil Yaakob to questions from reporters on July 11. "There are many sensitivities to be considered, as certain trends portrayed in movies can be socially damaging." Without Austin Powers, he said, "There will be no loss, socially speaking." Neighboring Singapore, known for its zero-tolerance attitude toward social deviance, finally approved the film's release after prolonged debate about whether to change the title—to "shag" is one of innumerable English euphemisms for doing what comes naturally.

Malaysia also banned Disney's animated film The Prince of Egypt, and Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List, for their pro-Jewish content. Reuters reported that banned films typically show up as pirated videos on the Malaysian black market. The Spy Who Shagged Me will probably be no exception. No mention was made of what punishment might be meted out to censorship violators.