Vietnam banned Barbie from distribution due to a dispute over its alleged depiction of the controversial “nine-dash line.”
She’s a Barbie girl in a Barbie world…Unfortunately, it seems the real world – or at least the way Barbie sees it – has drawn ire from Vietnam, who has banned the upcoming movie stemming from a dispute over territory ownership.
The issue at hand directly involves the nine-dash line, a section of the South China Sea – between China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei – that China claims ownership over, even though other countries object to this. In a short piece seen in the trailer for Barbie, the nine-dash line is featured in a childish map – so much so that it doesn’t even have the right number of dashes or an accurate shape. But the mere suggestion of it was enough for Vietnam to ban Barbie due to the apparent insult. The Philippines are currently in discussion of whether or not to release the film.
As per a Warner Bros. spokesman (via Variety), “The map in Barbie Land is a child-like crayon drawing…The doodles depict Barbie’s make-believe journey from Barbie Land to the ‘real world.’ It was not intended to make any type of statement.” In other words, maybe don’t be offended by the drawings of a piece of plastic…
But Barbie isn’t the only project to be banned in Southeast Asian countries due to the nine-dash line. DreamWorks’ Abominable wound up banned in Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia for its depiction of the disputed line. Last year, the adaptation of Uncharted was also banned in Vietnam and the Philippines, with the former citing “illegal images.” Interestingly, Barbie isn’t even the only movie from this year to be barred from release in Vietnam, as John Wick: Chapter 4 saw the same fate due to co-starring nine-dash line proponent Donnie Yen.
Regardless of Vietnam’s move, Barbie is shaping up to have an opening weekend not just of pink (and there is a lot of pink), but green, with projections expecting it to open #1 with a possible $80 million haul. Barbie comes to theaters on July 21st.
What do you think of the controversy surrounding Barbie and Vietnam? How do you think it will fare at the international box office? Give us your thoughts below.