The erotic movie banned from Amazon Prime for being too horny

It might be a cult classic, but the streaming service has rejected ‘Shortbus’ five times.

by Douglas Greenwood
09 May 2022, 11:20am

Oscilloscope Laboratories

By this point, let’s be honest, we’re pretty much numb to horniness on screen. Everybody’s bits are on show. Unsimulated sex in independent movies is no longer frowned upon, but, for many directors, an artistic choice. What was once shocking is now the standard. Shortbus, released in 2006, was one of the first movies of the new century to push those boundaries. But its artistic merit has been questioned by the censors at Amazon Prime Video, who’ve reportedly rejected hosting the movie five times.

A little context to boost Shortbus’ merits: the movie was directed by John Cameron Mitchell and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival back in 2006 to a sea of solid-to-strong reviews. It follows a sex therapist who, with her current partner, can’t reach orgasm. But when this fact is revealed to one of her clients, a gay man in a consensually non-monogamous relationship, he suggests she attends a weekly salon called ‘Shortbus’, hosted by a drag queen, in which interesting characters gather and the limits of their kinks are set aside. A lot of shagging ensues.

Despite the horniness at the forefront of the film, critics from publications like Rolling Stone and the New York Post praised the way its story offset its hardcore sex with a softheartedness. That alone suggests that the movie exists not solely for the purpose of erotic titillation, and has forced the distributors behind it, Oscilloscope Laboratories, to question why Amazon have rejected the idea of allowing users to stream the new 4K restoration of the movie on demand. 

“There’s no shortage of dicks readily available on Amazon, and apparently, there are plenty behind the scenes too,” Oscilloscope Laboratories president Dan Berger said, speaking to 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 original excuse was that the film’s subtitles were ‘out of sync’ with the film, but also that it features ‘offensive content’ — but the equally explicit Nymphomaniac by Lars von Trier, which also includes scenes of unsimulated sex, is available to purchase for VOD viewing too. 

We’re yet to hear if Oscilloscope Laboratories’ demands will be met by Jeff Bezos, but fret not — you can watch Shortbus on plenty of other VOD platforms. Or PornHub, if that’s more your thing.

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