Iran’s state TV channels are well-known for their creative censorship of “un-Islamic” scenes in movies, but Iranian internet users said they took it to another level on March 17. IRIB TV5 took care to cover up the nipple of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson when it appeared in a hospital scene in the science fiction monster film “Fast and Furious 7.”

TV5 broadcast the film on March 17, on the eve of the annual holiday for Nowruz, the Iranian New Year. When Johnson appeared in a hospital bad, chest bared, with his broken arm resting on a pillow, the censors apparently used editing software to “stretch” the pillow to hide his right nipple. A tattoo on the left side of his chest was also blurred.

In a country where bootleg copies of Hollywood movies are often available before they are shown on TV, the trick did not go unnoticed. Fans posted sarcastic and mocking reactions on social media.

This montage of images was posted on Mamlekate, a popular channel on the messaging app Telegram, March 18, 2019. The top image shows a scene from the film "Fast and Furious 7" as broadcast on Iranian state TV. The bottom image shows the same scene from the original movie.


This Twitter user posted a sarcastic message, writing, “Another historic moment in state media. The people who work in the censorship section of state TV have a strange idea of sexuality if the sight of a male nipple turns them on.”


Another user wrote: "Another achievement by state TV: censoring Dwayne Johnson’s nipples. If they’re afraid wolf teats are erotic, they must think this guy is Kim Kardashian. God, why did we have to be born in Iran?"

Iranian viewers regularly criticise the country’s TV censors. While producers and filmmakers say there are no specific rules, state TV generally follows the country’s strict hijab laws when determining the body parts that women can show in public. It’s rare for male bodies to be covered in the same way.

In April, IRIB TV3 blurred the logo of Italy’s AS Roma football team during the UEFA Champions League in an effort to cover up the teats of the she-wolf on the club’s badge.

In this screen grab posted on Twitter, censors for Iran’s IRIB5 channel added a lampshade to a scene from “The Intern” to cover Anne Hathaway’s chest.

An Iranian user also posted photos from the state-owned Namayesh channel showing how a dog being fed at the table was covered by adding a door. For some conservatives in Iran, allowing a dog inside a house is a symbol of Western lifestyle.


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CORRECTION (25/3/19): The original version of this article published March 25 misidentified the name of the film broadcast by IRIB TV5 and its initial airdate. The film was "Fast and Furious 7," not "Rampage." The screengrabs circulating on Iranian social medis were taken from the March 17 airing, not a subsequent airing on March 19.