Any child can tell you that banning something is almost a surefire way of piquing an interest in it. Some governments, however, decided that banning these unusual things was an easy fix for their problems.
1. Greece: Video games
In 2002, Greece decided to ban any and all electronic computer games—everything from console games to online Solitaire and Minesweeper fell under this ban. The law was apparently intended to help crack down on Internet gambling; CNET reported that “the blanket ban was decided in February after the government admitted it was incapable of distinguishing innocuous video games from illegal gambling machines.” Soon after, though, a local Greek judge declared the law unconstitutional, and though the law still exists, it seems the Greek government hasn’t been doing much about it.
2. China: Time travel
Not the action of time travel itself, but rather the portrayal of it. In early 2011, the State Administration for Radio, Film and Television in China declared that time travel is all but prohibited from TV and movies. Apparently, time travel has been very popular in Chinese TV dramas, and the government discouraged them because they “casually make up myths, have monstrous and weird plots, use absurd tactics, and even promote feudalism, superstition, fatalism and reincarnation.” Naturally, the time-travel film Looper was extremely successful in China.
3. Russia: Being Emo
The emo trend began in the 1980s, characterized by its emotional music similar to punk and rock and the fashion styles that are a mix of punk and goth. To most people, it’s just a phase for teenagers to go through; in Russia, though, it’s a dangerous social group that should be stamped out. In 2008, a piece of legislation (“Government Strategy in the Sphere of Spiritual and Ethical Education”) began to restrict “dangerous teen trends” like the emo culture. The bill describes “emos” as teenagers with studded belts, painted fingernails, facial piercings, and black hair with face-concealing fringes. It also claims that the emo “negative ideology” encourages depression, social withdrawal and suicide—and it would be irresponsible to allow the trend to continue. The self-proclaimed emo culture took to the streets, marching in the UK and Siberia to defend their right to expressing their emotions. If Russia has its way, emo will be all but banned by 2020.
4. China: Reincarnation
If you don’t have permission from China’s government, you can’t seek reincarnation. While probably not a problem for most people, the Buddhist monks in Tibet are facing a complicated issue. The law, which is very specific on the procedures of permitted reincarnation and is stated to be “an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation,” is an underhanded attempt to diminish the Dalai Lama’s influence and restrict the Buddhist establishment still in existence in Tibet. The current Dalai Lama is 77 years old, and he refuses to be reborn in Tibet as long as it is under Chinese control. In the future, there could be two Dalai Lamas—the one chosen by the Chinese government under their law, and the one chosen by the Buddhist monks.
5. Cuba: Cell phones
During Fidel Castro’s reign in Cuba, few citizens owned cell phones. Not because they were too expensive, but because they were banned—only executives working for foreign companies or high communist party officials were allowed to have them. Fidel Castro defended his ban by claiming the restrictions were “necessary sacrifices” in the “battle of ideas” against the U.S. When Raul Castro, younger brother of Fidel, took over control of Cuba in 2008, one of his early actions was to lift the ban on cell phones. While expensive, the freedom of owning a cell phone had many citizens to rushing to purchase their first.