Smurfette, the only female member of venerable blue humanoid group The Smurfs, has been axed from the movie poster of Smurfs: The Lost Village in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv, in Israel.
As promotional posters for Sony Pictures Animation’s latest film in the animated franchise rolled out in the country this week in advance of its March 30 release, most of Israel saw the standard image of three male smurfs – Clumsy, Hefty and Brainy — along with key character Smurfette. But in Bnei Brak, the blue lady had been omitted from the poster to keep in line with the community’s censorship sensibilities, by which it is not accepted practice for women to appear in advertisements.
According to the Israeli daily paper Haaretz, the film’s distributor Forum Film said its PR company opted not to display the original poster in the area in order “not to harm residents’ sensibilities” and added that “it is not accepted practice for images of women to appear on the city’s billboards.”
While it’s not the first time a female face has been axed from promotional material in the area – Jennifer Lawrence was not used in ads for the final instalment of The Hunger Games franchise and even Hilary Clinton’s image was dropped in certain religious publications during U.S. election coverage, – it is understood that this may be the first time an animated character has fallen victim of the community’s modesty standards.
Of course not all Orthodox communities in Israel adhere to these gender-separation practices. Indeed, most regions in the country are very progressive, and many have taken to social media to poke fun at the decision to axe Smurfette, a central character in the film voiced by Demi Lovato, from the posters.
Pluralistic group like Israel Religious Action Center called it an “absurd example of excluding representations of the female form” while others on Twitter noted the irony that “topless” male Smurfs were allowed to remain on the poster.