A television channel in Uzbekistan has apologised profusely for allowing a bedroom scene from a Hollywood film to make its way onto domestic screens, it's reported.
Privately-owned entertainment channel Sevimli TV said a "technical failure" meant that an uncut version of 2018 comedy I Feel Pretty was shown, complete with a raunchy scene where star Amy Schumer kisses and cuddles a male character on a bed, CA News reported.
Uzbekistan, Central Asia's most populous country, often censors films shown on TV. The bedroom scene was said to have been aired "contrary to the Uzbek mentality" which "trampled on the spirit of the nation", a campaign to force an apology from the channel declared.
A remorseful Sevimli TV said it had sacked all staff members responsible for letting the "immoral scene" slip through. "Everyone makes mistakes," it said, promising to be more careful in future. Later reports said that Sevimli had dismissed three employees over the incident.
I Feel Pretty stars Amy Schumer as an insecure woman who becomes super-confident about herself after suffering a head injury. It was given a 12A certificate by the British Board of Film Classification, which says it contains "moderate sex, sex references, and language".
No sex please, we're Uzbek
Many nationals commenting on social media about the incident thought that sacking people for not removing the scene was a step too far.
"What kind of old moralists are working at our TV channels, who force people to cut out kissing scenes and even some phrases and words? This is something that everyone has already seen; you are not going to surprise anyone with erotic footage," one Facebook user said.
Others say that censorship of sex on the nation's screens is a hangover from the years Uzbekistan was part of the Soviet Union. "There was no sex in the USSR, and it still does not exist in Uzbekistan. But has anyone ever wondered where we got 32 million people?" another user asked.
Some urged the authorities to punish the channel for showing the film uncut. "Those who showed disrespect to the nation's spirituality and values should be brought to book," one Facebook user said.
This is not the first time a foreign film has caused a morality debate in predominantly Muslim Uzbekistan. Earlier this year another privately-owned channel, Zor TV, took a Turkish soap opera off the air after a social media-led campaign branded the series "indecent and un-Islamic".
Even domestically-produced content can whip up controversy. The MY8 channel was forced to defend itself in April after airing a programme showing lovers kissing on park benches being confronted and chastised.
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