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Amazon Doesn’t Want You to See ‘Shortbus,’ Now Banned for ‘Offensive Content’ on Prime Video

John Cameron Mitchell's 2006 queer erotic masterpiece is critically acclaimed. So why won't Prime Video stream it?

“Shortbus”

Think Film/Courtesy Everett Collection

Fans have been waiting a long while for “Shortbus” to become available on a streaming platform. Yet even 15 years after its initial release and a new 4K restoration, John Cameron Mitchell’s provocative, exuberantly sex-positive 2006 movie has been rejected five times by AmazonPrime Video when submitted by Oscilloscope Laboratories.

The official Prime Video reasoning is that the “captions are out of sync” for the feature, as well as it containing “offensive content.” The subtitle captions reportedly work on every other platform. The formal Prime Video publishing error response reads: “We aren’t making your title available on Prime Video as it violates our Content Policy Guidelines.”

However, there seems to be a double standard afoot for Amazon Prime Video subscribers.

“There’s no shortage of dicks readily available on Amazon, and apparently, there are plenty behind the scenes too,” “Shortbus” distributor Oscilloscope Laboratories president Dan Berger told IndieWire. “The prudishness and utter hypocrisy of refusing to carry this film — one that is the height of healthy representation, inclusiveness, and support for a community often persecuted — only further perpetuates abuse and they should be ashamed.”

The official Oscilloscope Laboratories Instagram account also uploaded a post decrying the Prime Video censorship, writing, “SHORTBUS is the movie @jeffbezos doesn’t want you to see! Despite there being plenty of other films on Prime with dicks & real sex, #ShortbusMovie has been BANNED from the platform. So if you want to watch @johncameronmitchell’s 2006 masterpiece in stunning 4K, please do so via a more open-minded VOD service.”
IndieWire reached out to Prime Video for comment.

“Shortbus” does feature unsimulated sex, much like Lars von Trier’s “Nymphomaniac” and Vincent Gallo’s “Brown Bunny” which are both available to rent on Prime Video. Despite premiering at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, “Shortbus” was previously only available to stream on PornHub — and dubbed in Spanish.

The film centers on a group of sexually fluid New Yorkers who convene at an underground salon known for its sexual debauchery.

Director Cameron Mitchell told IndieWire earlier this year in honor of the film’s re-release that sex is used as a “delivery system for ideas and characters and emotions” in the “emotionally deep” feature.

“From the beginning, I said, ‘Guys, I want to go places that film hasn’t gone…in a way that I like,'” Cameron Mitchell said. “Certainly, a lot of films had used sex, but they were pretty grim, and I wanted something more fun and funny, but still emotionally deep…In terms of sex being presented on film, mainstream or even independent film has foresworn it. They’ve given it up, because it’s too scary.”

Ryan Lattanzio contributed reporting.

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