Philippines approves ‘Barbie’ movie and calls controversial China map ‘cartoonish’
Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling at the premiere of “Barbie” at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall on July 9, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
Christopher Polk | wwd | Getty Images
The Philippines has approved the release of the ‘Barbie’ film after calls for a ban on the series over a controversial ‘nine-dash line’ map in China.
The decision came after the film review board concluded that the map was “cartoonish” and that there was no depiction of a disputed map feature that China is using to stake its claims over much of the disputed South China Sea.
Warner Bros. Barbie is unexpectedly proving to be one of the most controversial film releases this summer after Vietnam last week banned Greta Gerwig’s comedic fantasy production about the famous doll.
Promotional trailers reportedly included a scene showing the “nine-dash line,” a map element used by China to justify its territorial claims over most of the South China Sea.
“Given the context in which the comic book card of the character ‘Weird Barbie’ was depicted in the film, the review committee is satisfied that the disputed scene does not depict the ‘nine-dash line,'” the Philippine reads The Film and TV Review and Classification Board said in a statement Wednesday.
The decision was made after the film had been viewed twice and after consultations with both foreign ministers and legal experts.
According to media reports, the Philippine board of directors has called on Warner Bros. to “blur the controversial lines to avoid further misinterpretation”.
In 2016, an international tribunal in The Hague ruled against China after the Philippines filed a complaint over the disputed waterway. Tensions remain, however, as Beijing continues to deny that verdict.
Other Asian countries, including Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei, have since protested against China’s ongoing and ongoing construction of various land facilities to boost its land grabs. The disputed South China Sea is an important trade route rich in minerals and carrying trillions of dollars in shipping trade annually.
“The map in Barbie Land is a child’s crayon drawing,” a Warner Bros. Film Group spokesman told Variety last week in response to the Vietnam ban. “The doodles depict Barbie’s fictional journey from Barbieland to the ‘real world.’ It was not intended to make any statement.”
Film authorities in the Philippines, while accepting this argument, have also issued a warning.
“The panel strongly cautions all filmmakers, producers and distributors that it will have no hesitation in sanctioning and/or banning films that display the ‘nine dash line’ for violating the law,” the review panel said in its statement.
Starring Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken, both embark on a journey of self-discovery following their expulsion from utopian Barbieland.
This retailer’s stock could see a boost if the “Barbie” movie becomes a hit
Correction: This story has been updated with the correct year for the International Tribunal in The Hague.