Facebook has reversed its ban against ads for “Beautiful Blue Eyes,” a 2009 movie about the Holocaust, starring the late Roy Scheider. Director Joshua Newton re-released the movie this summer, having recovered parts of the movie that had been lost.
The movie’s title refers to a blue-eyed child who was killed by Nazis. But Facebook, in a knee-jerk reaction, banned the trailer because the title “includes direct or indirect assertions or implications about a person’s race,” which their policy opposes.
Facebook Bans Holocaust Film for Violating Race Policy
The filmmakers behind ‘BEAUTIFUL BLUE EYES,’ which marks Roy Scheider’s final performance, cannot advertise or promote the movie because the title breaches its policy against content that … https://t.co/EBR8llXZxk
— Haluk Demirbag (@HalukDemirbag) September 16, 2022
Incredibly, the title was seen as derogatory toward races that aren’t known for blue-eyed members. Newton learned of the ban in an email in early September, telling Rolling Stone in an interview at the Toronto Film Festival that “Facebook had banned the filmmakers from promoting or advertising” the movie.
The way the news was delivered was jarring, too: “You can no longer advertise using Facebook Products. This is our final decision.”
Newton sought to appeal the decision, saying it was a case of “alarming” censorship.
“Every decent and sane human being on this planet should be alarmed by Meta-Facebook’s ban on the advertising of a Holocaust-related film,” said Newton. “Mark Zuckerberg has created a monster that has no oversight,” he continued.
“It’s one thing to be flagged by an algorithm. It’s another for Meta-Facebook employees to review the flag and uphold it, knowing full well that the title is not discriminatory and that the film is Holocaust-related.”
Newton fumed some more, saying “This is the action of haters – and there are sadly many in our society – who seek to damage the film in order to trivialize the Holocaust.” (See Mark Levin’s book, “Unfreedom of the Press” for his discussion of Holocaust censorship, particularly in the NY Times.)
After Newton said he was thinking about litigation over the censorship, Facebook’s parent company Meta told Ars Technica that higher-ups in the social media behemoth had reviewed the case and reversed the ban.
Facebook changed its mind. A Meta spokesperson said, “We reviewed the ads and page in question and determined that the enforcement was made in error, so we lifted the restriction.”
The new trailer Beautiful Blue Eyes stars Roy Scheider. In his final performance, two-time Academy Award nominee, plays a NY cop seeking vengeance for the murder of his family in a Polish forest during WW2. pic.twitter.com/1xo6zQCokU
— Shahryar Sultan (@Shahryar_Sultan) September 16, 2022
The movie stars Roy Scheider in his last role before his death in 2008, at the age of 75.
AI technology was used to repair footage that had been damaged in one of the cameras. The new cut reflects Newton’s original story-telling intentions.
In the film, Scheider plays a Holocaust survivor, Joseph, who moves to New York and joins the NYPD. Joseph forms a plan to murder the Nazi guard who murdered his whole family, having heard that he is living under an assumed identity in Germany.
The movie is incredibly personal to the director, whose parents were Holocaust survivors. Part of the film is based on his father’s experiences.
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