Why Did These Countries Ban the “Barbie” Movie?

Why Did These Countries Ban the “Barbie” Movie?

Billion dollar box office hit “Barbie” has caused a cultural wave in the United States and many places around the world, driving movie-goers to wear hot pink to the theaters, repeat the film’s classic phrase “Hi Barbie,” and reevaluate their position on feminism. But not everyone agrees with the stance the film takes on feminism and identity, and some countries have gone as far as to ban it from theaters.

According to Reuters, In Lebanon, cultural Minister Mohammad Mortada banned the film claiming it promoted “homosexuality” and did not align with the country’s religious values. Mortada’s is known to be supported by a Shi’ite group that openly speaks against the LGBTQ+ community. 

Shortly after Lebanon’s ban, Kuwait also banned the movie to protect “public ethics.” According to a state run news agency in Kuwait, spokesman for the Kuwaiti Ministry for Press said the film “promulgate[s] ideas and beliefs that are alien to Kuwaiti society and public order.” 

Barbie was also banned in Vietnam and temporarily in the Philippines, but for a more peculiar reason. These countries had a particular issue with one still from the film that showed an elementary drawing of a world map behind Barbie (Margot Robbie) that depicted Asia and the South China Sea with an eight-dash line, which has been perceived as a nod to the highly controversial nine-dash line that marks the part of the sea China has claimed despite international backlash.

Warner Bros. the film’s parent company responded claiming the image was simply a “child-like crayon drawing,” and did not intend to imply any meaning. The Philippines reconsidered after scrutinuous screenings of the film and decided to allow it in theaters with the map blurred. 

Though other conservative countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will screen the film, they did suggest edits to exclude aspects of the film that promote alternative values. 

The film has grossed over one billion dollars since opening on July 21, and for director Greta Gerwig and leads Margot Robbie (Barbie) and Ryan Gosling (Ken), the film is the highest grossing of their careers. “Barbie” is still in theaters today in the U.S. and around the world.

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