Non-Binary Actor Iris Menas' 'West Side Story' Character Prompts Film Ban Overseas

by Emell Adolphus

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday December 7, 2021

Iris Menas (left) in "West Side Story"
Iris Menas (left) in "West Side Story"  

Disney's upcoming "West Side Story" musical adaptation, directed by Steven Spielberg, is reportedly being banned in parts of the Middle East because of a transgender character played by non-binary actor Iris Menas.

As reported by Variety, Disney is refusing to cut Menas' character for the film's release in the Gulf Coast. As a result, the film has been banned in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.

This isn't the first film with LGBTQ character and references that has led to censoring in the Middle East. Marvel's "Eternals" was also pulled from theaters in the region because the film's inclusion of the first openly gay superhero and his family. In exact fashion, Disney refused to make adjustments to the film.

Some 60 years after the original "West Side Story" film that earned Rita Moreno an Oscar for her portrayal of Anita, an updated cast returns for a new take on the story's conflicted romance. Spielberg's adaptation features Rachel Zegler and Ansel Elgort as the main star-crossed loves, with Ariana DeBose as Anita, David Alvarez as Bernardo, Mike Faist as Riff, and Rita Moreno as Valentina.

"West Side Story" releases elsewhere in theaters on Friday, Dec. 10. Will you be watching?