Saudis Censor Katy Perry

Blogger Susie Of Arabia reports that after buying a copy of Katy Perry's album One of the Boys in Saudi Arabia, she realized that all the pictures of Katy Perry had been heavily doctored by Saudi censors. Below (left) is the original album cover, and on the right is the Saudi version.

This is standard practice in Saudi Arabia. A few years ago I posted about Mariah Carey album covers that were similarly doctored by the Saudis.

Susie suggests that the Katy Perry albums were individually doctored by hand, by censors armed with magic markers. She writes: "the Saudi government is actually paying religious police members of the Committee for the Protection of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CVPVP) to remove the plastic wrap from these CDs, open up the CD cases, remove the front and back inserts, and carefully and painstakingly color in with a marker any photos baring exposed female flesh that is deemed objectionable."

I really doubt that. It would take far too long. Instead, I'm almost certain that a more modest version of the cover would have been printed specifically for the Saudi market.

Of course, America has its own history of moral censorship of photos. However, in America the censors typically don't try to reclothe people who are wearing too few clothes. Instead, they remove offending details such as exposed nipples or belly buttons, creating anatomical mutants.

Celebrities Music Photos

Posted on Fri Apr 17, 2009


Yes, well, I lived in that area of the world for too many and rebelled even then. I fight anyone who tries to manipulate what I say, watch, read, draw and dream. What the heck's wrong with a plain brown wrapper? If it offends you, then don't watch, listen or read it. I've lived over half a century....I believe I know better than those 'wippersnappers'!
Posted by hulitoons  on  Fri Apr 17, 2009  at  10:16 AM
If the Saudis invent a way for me to unhear Katy Perry I'm all in.
Posted by Irene  on  Fri Apr 17, 2009  at  10:50 AM
The Saudis do actually have these wild and radical new things known as "computers" and "printers" and "graphics software". It wouldn't take much for them to create an altered version of the cover art and then print out as many of the CD labels as they needed.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Fri Apr 17, 2009  at  02:55 PM
Special CDs that are "kid safe" are censored & made for WalMart why wouldn't there be a way to censor a product going overseas?

There is a lot of media that has different covers for different markets.
Posted by Maegan  on  Fri Apr 17, 2009  at  09:22 PM
If seeing ONE instance of female skin is bad for Saudi eyes, what about the eyes of the people who (apparently) color in shorts and tops on all those CD covers?

No 72 virgins for them in Arab Heaven, I'm guessing.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sat Apr 18, 2009  at  02:11 AM
They hire infidels,,,
Posted by Canadarm  on  Sun Apr 19, 2009  at  02:31 PM
I want to know how these are being sold in Saudi in the first place?? TheY have laws banning women from doing all sorts of things, apparently including performing. During the 1st Gulf War, when Bob Hope went to entertain the troops, the female performers in the show, including the Pointer Sisters who were just singers, were not allowed to perform in S. A.
Posted by Frederick J. Barnett  on  Mon Apr 20, 2009  at  08:27 AM
Interesting that the doctored images are still something that would have troubled the Victorians - unless they could have been convinced it was High Art, of course.
Posted by Mr Henderson  on  Mon Apr 20, 2009  at  03:36 PM
RE skepticism regarding doctoring of indiviual pieces by hand: I lived in Kuwait years ago (before the first Gulf War). I saw many instances where photos in European newspapers, magazines, etc. had been censored by hand. It was common practice, and I don't doubt that in Saudi they are censoring indiviual CD booklets by hand. Also, they would sometimes stamp a message in Arabic next to articles or pictures. Once, in Kuwait, I saw an artile in Time or Newsweek which was illustrated by a sylized Star of David. There was a censor stamp in Arabic over the Star of David. I asked an Arabic speaker to translate, and he told me it read "Know Your Enemy."
Posted by Stan  on  Tue Apr 21, 2009  at  03:48 PM
I lived in the middle east for a couple of years and can attest to the fact that many european magazines and tape covers were hand censored using magic markers, I've even still got a copy of GNR Lies on tape which has the nudie lady on the inside blacked out with a sharpie.
Posted by Dee  on  Fri Apr 24, 2009  at  04:28 AM
I too lived in Saudi Arabia in the late 1970s and remember buying books, magazines and cassettes where exposed female flesh was hand painted over. They usually used black ink but sometimes a green magic marker was used to make it look like the woman was wearing more.
I can't say what they do now but censoring one by one by hand was indeed the actual practice back then.
Posted by Janus  on  Fri Apr 24, 2009  at  10:03 PM
I am extremely happy to "not live" in SA, and to live in a country which allows free speech with all the trimmings, even if sometimes I am subjected to classless images and writings.
Posted by Rick Hendricks  on  Mon May 04, 2009  at  01:23 PM
living here short term. magazines, DVD's CD's Books, packaging showing women ( shampoo, kiddie pools, deodorant, razors, wax strips etc etc etc) are ALL backed out with sharpie, BY HAND....not computer, not different packaging...shaprie can see the draw lines. Its a crazy place!
Posted by la  on  Tue May 12, 2009  at  01:54 PM
Wow--that is completely ridiculous!
Posted by Charles Jamieson  on  Tue Sep 15, 2009  at  08:44 PM
America actually does color in clothing on people. Just look at the cover for "Bicycle Race" by Queen; it has a photo of naked lady on a bike from behind and the US colored in a red bikini bottom!
Posted by b  on  Tue Apr 13, 2010  at  07:37 AM
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