Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Opposite Effect: Sales of pirated Miyabi DVDs surges

Compiled from various sources (click to view): Japan Today, and Times Online. Photo:

A Japanese porn star has canceled a trip to predominantly Muslim Indonesia to act in a no-nudity comedy after sparking outrage from religious groups, producers said Wednesday.

Maxima Pictures pulled plans to film “Kidnapping Miyabi” in Indonesia and is scouting for an alternative location, said executive producer Yoen K.

Maria Ozawa, popularly known as Miyabi, was scheduled to arrive Wednesday (Oct 14) to begin production. The 23-year-old was “sad and disappointed to hear so many people opposed her visit,” he said.

Over the years various foreigners have been banned from entering Indonesia, but Maria Ozawa does not look like an obvious candidate for the blacklist.

A shapely 23-year old of mixed Japanese and Canadian parentage, she is not a terrorist, journalist, or a convicted criminal. But Ozawa has been forced to cancel her arrival in Jakarta today in a row that has drawn in Islamic fundamentalists, feminists and plenty of people in between.

Better known by her acting name Miyabi, Ozawa is one of Asia’s most successful pornographic film actresses. Although little known in the West, she has surpassed even acting legends such as Pamela Anderson as the most searched for celebrity on Indonesia’s internet version of Google. But news of her plans to work in Indonesia have stirred up angry protests from conservative Islamic organisations in the latest round in an ongoing debate about sexual morality.

Ironically the film project which was to have brought Ozawa to Indonesia was one that required her to keep on all her clothes. She had been invited by the producers of Kidnapping Miyabi, a comedy about a group of teenagers obsessed with Ozawa’s work who “accidentally kidnap” her as she is attempting to escape from a mob of fans. The screenplay ends happily with the adult star settling down in Jakarta, where she opens a lingerie shop.

Yoen said discussions were ongoing with religious organizations, but added it was wrong to prevent someone from acting in film, rather than judging the final product.

One of the most vocal opponents has been the influential Indonesian Ullema Council, a board of Muslim clerics, which has consistently opposed Ozawa’s visit over fears it will damage the country’s image.

“Come or not, we continue to reject her,” said Ma’ruf Amin, a prominent member of the council, known by its Indonesian acronym MUI. “We will continue to reject her even if she will not be nude.”

The cancellation comes weeks after Indonesia’s parliament passed a law ordering filmmakers to uphold “religious, ethical, moral, and national cultural values.” Movie makers are concerned a new censorship body outlined in the law will bring back the days of extreme censorship under the Suharto dictatorship, which was toppled more than a decade ago.

Indonesia’s population of 235 million is largely socially conservative, but not everyone agreed with the clerics that keeping out porn stars is a good thing.

Around a dozen Muslim students staged a rally in the capital of South Sulawesi, Makassar, on Wednesday, saying Ozawa’s human rights were being violated.

“As long as she will not appear in any porn action, there is no reason to ban her visit to Indonesia,” said Ubaidi, a protester at the Indonesian Muslim University campus.

“Everyone has the right to come and earn a living in Indonesia,” he said. “Just take care of your own morals, don’t intervene in Miyabi’s business.”

The resulting brouhaha may have the opposite effect to that intended, however. According to the Japanese Kyodo news agency, sales of pirated Miyabi DVDs have surged in Jakarta’s Glodok market .