The Nine Titles Netflix Pulled After Foreign Governments Demanded They Be Removed

Netflix released on Friday an environmental, social and governance report that included nine selections it has removed after foreign governments demanded they be pulled from the streaming service.

In an effort to be more transparent, Netflix revealed which content was taken down because of the governments' demands. According to the report, these takedowns will be reported annually beginning next year. The titles were removed from the streaming service came after written legal demands from the governments.

Perhaps the most high-profile piece of content was an episode of comedian Hasan Minhaj's show Patriot Act where he mocked the Saudi government's explanations for journalist Jamal Khashoggi's killing. The episode, titled "Saudi Arabia," was pulled from the service in 2019 only in Saudi Arabia. In January that year, Variety saidthat Netflix removed the episode so it wouldn't violate local law.

"We strongly support artistic freedom worldwide and only removed this episode in Saudi Arabia after we had received a valid legal request—and to comply with local law," the streaming service told Variety.

Most of the content removed from the service was in Singapore, at the demand of the Infocomm Media Development Authority. In 2019, Martin Scorsese's controversial film The Last Temptation of Christ, which depicts Jesus struggling with various temptations, was removed from the service because it is banned in the city-state.

Shows centered on marijuana usage were also removed from the service's offerings in Singapore, such as the pot cooking-competition show Cooking on High, the sitcom Disjointed and cannabis documentary The Legend of 420. In June 2019, TripSavvy called Singapore's drug laws "the strictest on the planet." This year, the city-state demanded that Brazilian spoof The Last Hangover, which parodies the Last Supper in a Hangover-style comedy, be removed from the service. Singapore's constitution supports religious freedom.

The first removal came in 2015 after the New Zealand Film and Video Labeling Body demanded it for the 2006 documentary The Bridge, which looks at suicides at San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge over one year, including interviews with family and friends of the victims. It was considered "objectionable" by the FVLB. New Zealand's 2006 Coroners Act imposes tight restrictions on how suicides can be portrayed in the media and requires permission or an exemption for suicides to be made public without a coroner-completed certificate.

In 2017, Netflix removed Stanley Kubrick's Vietnam War film Full Metal Jacket after a written demand from the Vietnam's Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information. The film depicts the experience of two privates in boot camp and in Vietnam. That same year, the service also removed George Romero's zombie classic Night of the Living Dead in Germany because it's banned there.

Despite its plans to announce these removals annually, Netflix has fought governments on taking down its content. In January, Netflix filed a complaint to Brazil's top legal authority after a Rio de Janeiro judge ordered that The Last Hangover be removed, NBC news reported. A Brazilian Supreme Court judge ruled in Netflix's favor.

"It is not to be assumed that a humorous satire has the magic power to undermine the values ​​of the Christian faith, whose existence goes back more than two thousand years," the judge wrote.

Hasan Minhaj
Hasan Minhaj attends a "Patriot Act" screening on April 6, 2019, in Los Angeles. Charles Gallay/Getty