When it came time for Sony Pictures Animation to promote their upcoming reboot Smurfs: The Lost Village in certain areas of Israel, Smurfette didn't make the cut. The only female Smurf was scrubbed from a giant billboard in one very religious Israeli city. It turns out, Smurfette was banned in the name of religion.
Promotional posters for Smurfs 3 were draped across Israel on Sunday. But in the town of Bnei Brak, these images had to be slightly altered. The area is an ultra-Orthodox enclave on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. And the Jewish men who reside there are not allowed to gaze upon any woman, no matter how blue and rodent-sized they may be.
In some of Isreal's most devout communities, depictions of women are excised from any and all newspapers, catalogues and advertisements. Even during the recent U.S. election, images of Hillary Clinton were banned from coverage, leaving only Donald Trump to be looked upon by these Jewish locals.
Recently, IKEA came under fire for publishing a special version of its catalogue that only featured men and boys in its pages, which was meant to only be distributed in these areas. It isn't out of the ordinary for most movie posters going up in the region to have actresses removed as they appear around various religious neighborhoods. Jennifer Lawrence was axed from one-sheets advertising the 2015 release The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, with just a fiery crown taking her place.
But the Smurfs poster is making news, as it is the first time a non-human female has been shunted off a movie advert, deemed 'forbidden fruit', as Variety refers to her. The edits were made by a local PR firm working for Sony, according to Israeli press. They were organized as part of the publicity campaign, with the altered images only appearing in religious neighborhoods. Most of Israel will get undoctored images that feature Smurfette alongside Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty. Secular Israelis have been mocking the decision to cut Smurfette out of the picture, literally, and there have been plenty of jokes made about the movie on social media. TV scribe Yotam Zimri tweeted this quip.
"Wait until they find out that Jokey Smurf has been living a lie and all this time was attracted to Brainy."
Some have pointed out that the shirtless male Smurfs are not modest in the least bit, and should have been covered up. A more serious debate has also risen about the fact that the movie is being advertised in the region without the film itself being edited to remove Smurfette. The decision was made because some religious Jews do go to secular movies, and many others download the films to watch at home or in the local Internet cafe. Forum Films, who is distributing the Sony release in the area, explained that it was standard practice to remove all females in advertisements going up around ultra-Orthodox enclaves, even though the movie in question won't be altered in that way.
It's noted that when DC Films' Wonder Woman opens in the region, Gal Gadot, who is from Israel, will not be gracing the posters in the more religious areas of her homeland. A representative for Gadot joked that a special poster will be created for the area that will only feature co-star Chris Pine as Steve Trevor. Just wait until Israel gets a load of SmurfWillow.