Vietnam Prohibits Screening of Greta Gerwig’s ‘Barbie’ Due to “Contentious Map Scene”

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source: Reuters

The highly anticipated Warner Bros. film “Barbie,” featuring renowned actors Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, has been met with a ban on its commercial screenings in Vietnam.

Originally scheduled for release on July 21, the movie has faced opposition from Vietnamese authorities due to a particular scene depicting a map that includes the controversial “nine-dash line.”

This line symbolises China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, which Vietnam vehemently opposes, asserting that it infringes upon its sovereignty.

source: Pinterest

The decision to ban “Barbie” was made by the National Film Evaluation Council, as announced by Vi Kien Thanh, the director general of the Vietnam Cinema Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. Vietnam, along with several other countries neighbouring China, has overlapping territorial claims and disputes China’s expansive assertions.

In 2016, a United Nations tribunal in The Hague unanimously ruled against the validity of the “nine-dash line.” However, despite the arbitration’s final and binding nature, the lack of clear implementation mechanisms and China’s refusal to recognise the decision have posed challenges.

Vietnam’s state-run newspaper, Tuoi Tre, quoted Vi Kien Thanh affirming the denial of a license for the American film “Barbie” to be released in Vietnam. The inclusion of the contentious “nine-dash line” image served as the basis for this decision. Vietnam has encountered similar conflicts with other productions in the past.

source: Foreign Policy

In 2019, DreamWorks’ animated film “Abominable” faced a ban for the same reason, while Sony’s “Uncharted” experienced a similar fate in the previous year. Additionally, exhibitor CGV was fined for screening “Abominable,” and staff at the Vietnam Cinema Department faced disciplinary action for not promptly identifying the offensive content, leading to the film being pulled from cinemas after just over a week.

Over the years, other instances have emerged where the map containing the “nine-dash line” has caused complications for various television series and films in Vietnam. In 2020, the series “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” and “Madam Secretary” were instructed to remove scenes featuring the contentious map.

Furthermore, in 2021, Netflix was directed to withdraw the Australian spy drama “Pine Gap” from the Vietnamese market.

source: Hola

The ban on “Barbie” in Vietnam serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing sensitivity surrounding territorial disputes in the South China Sea. As neighbouring countries continue to contest China’s claims, the inclusion of the “nine-dash line” in media productions remains a contentious issue.

Vietnam, determined to protect its sovereignty, has taken a firm stance by prohibiting the commercial screenings of films that feature this disputed map.

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