15 Dumb Things That Have Been Banned Around the World

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From your favourite pair of blue jeans to playground tag, we count fifteen crazy things that have been banned around the world!

15 – Puns,

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  • Puns are play-on words, expressions with double meanings. They may inspire groans, but are ultimately harmless. Puns commonly form the basis of dad jokes, which everyone loves – or loves to hate.
  • Enter the Chinese government, AKA the fun police. In 2014, the Chinese government introduced a ban on wordplay, specifically extending to all forms of media and advertising.
  • Apparently, this measure was taken to protect the sanctity of the language and prevent ‘cultural and linguistic chaos’. Imagine if said chaos was allowed to ensue? The streets would be plunged into permanent darkness. Building interiors would be charred and skeletal, and no one – no one! – would be able to understand one another because the only things leaving their mouths would be hilarious puns.
  • Chinese language is particularly rife with puns because there are so many homophones, which are words that sound the same but have different meanings.
  • Hysteria aside, critics have reasoned the government’s move is more likely aimed at people who use puns and double entendres to get around censorship laws. So, if you use puns for good, instead of evil, you should be okay.

14 – Banned Movies,

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  • The world is full of different cultures, but there’s nothing more universally loved than a trip to the movies. Unfortunately, different countries have wildly different sensitivities – one nation’s idea of humour can fail to translate, and offence can occur where none was intended.
  • For instance, Scandinavia banned E.T. because they felt it would encourage their children to disobey adults. Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine was banned in India because it contained a single scene of a man smoking. Indonesia banned Schindler’s List, a famous holocaust film, for being too sympathetic to the Jewish cause, while Burma banned The Simpsons Movie for its depiction of yellow skin. Monty Python’s Life of Brian was banned in Norway for blasphemy, and the South Park movie was banned in virtually all of Asia and the Middle East.
  • 2012, the CGI disaster film that also had some real-life human actors in there somewhere, was banned in North Korea for having the audacity to take place during the same year as former leader Kim Il-Sung’s centenary anniversary. North Korean officials didn’t want tragedy to interfere with their celebrations (I guess it’s lucky the world didn’t actually end then), and any citizens caught with bootlegs were arrested.
  • Finally, a mention must go to Claire Danes, star of Homeland. In 1998, Danes shot a film in Manila. During a later interview, she described the city as ‘ghastly’ and ‘weird’, then went on to say it ‘smelled of cockroaches’, ‘had rats all over’ and was a ‘giant toilet full of crazy people’. The Filipino government subsequently declared her a ‘persona non grata’ and banned her films from being shown in the city.

13 – Blue Jeans,

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  • During the Cold War, jeans were highly sought after in Eastern European countries and the USSR. Today, jeans – specifically blue ones – remain a symbol of democracy and capitalism, and are perceived as a threat to totalitarianism, especially in North Korea.
  • North Korea generally does its own thing, and is not all that interested in global politics or relations. In fact, the country is so suspicious of the outside world that it is nicknamed ‘the hermit state’.
  • North Korea’s government is known to oppose liberalism, and blue jeans – which were famously rocked by Bruce Springsteen on the cover of Born in the USA – seem to represent the nations’ ideological differences. Consequently, jeans are completely banned in North Korea.
  • However, the capital, Pyongyang, has defied this stance, proving they aren’t completely anti-jean. A deal was recently struck with a Swedish company to produce and export designer jeans. The jeans would cost average citizens two years’ wages, and they only come in black because blue denim is still considered a symbol of American Imperialism. Baby steps, guys.

12 – Emo Culture,

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  • In 2008, Russia faced all sorts of outside threats: international reporters, Chechen rebels, and emo bands like My Chemical Romance. These bands were blamed for the degradation of youth culture because they introduced the apathetic emo culture into Russian society.
  • In the face of a rising teen suicide rate, the Russian government dubbed the music and fashion movement ‘a threat to national stability’. Russia had figurative black eyeliner running down its cheek, perceiving that the country’s very future was at stake.
  • Measures were taken to regulate all things emo, which included banning relevant websites and preventing citizens from wearing emo fashion in schools or government buildings.

11 – Bear Wrestling,

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  • In the 19th century, bear wrestling was a popular French pastime that quickly made its way to the United States. But it’s not some relic of the past, as cases of bear wrestling have been reported as recently as the 2000s.
  • This sport has been banned by the governments of over twenty US states, meaning any continuing activity will have, by now, been forced underground.
  • Fans of this outlandish banned sport should not despair. There are alternatives. For instance: you can always take on a bear in a round of professional hotdog-eating. Hotdog-eating champion Takeru Kobayashi did this in 2003 – seriously.

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