We expect latex couture to garner stares and sometimes even controversy. Plenty of celebrities have taken to strutting down red carpets in our favorite textile, revealing more than they conceal or singers manage their 90-minute shows with spectacular latex wardrobe changes…with often, almost seeming planned ‘malfunctions.’ And we know plenty of cosplayers even now gearing up for San Diego’s Comic-Con as much to show off their rendering skills as their gym workouts. But who would have thought that Barbie, pretty and perfect as she is in her frilly dresses, headbands, heels, and everything Barbiecore, could garner controversy?
But she has.
The new Barbie movie, starring Margot Robbie as everybody’s favorite doll, and directed by Great Gerwig, features a scene stirring up a no-show ban in some Asian countries. There is a moment in the new movie where Barbie stands in front of a map showing what is known as the “Nine-Dash Line.” This demarcation is used on Chinese maps to delineate a territory in the South China Sea that both Vietnam and China claim as theirs. Vietnam has banned the movie because of the line being shown, with a statement from Vietnam’s Head Of The Department Of Cinema, Vi Kien Thanh, released through the country’s Tuoi Tre newspaper, declaring:
“We do not grant license for the American movie Barbie to release in Vietnam because it contains the offending image of the nine-dash line.”
And just today, Philippines’ Senator and vice chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, Francis Tolentino, said that if the nine-dash line appears in the Barbie movie, being released on 7/21, “then it is incumbent upon the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to ban the same as it denigrates Philippine sovereignty.” Compromises are being floated in the Philippines where the offending scene might be deleted, or a disclaimer will be shown at that country’s cinemas still distributing the film, stating the nine-dash line is “a figment of China’s imagination.”
And here we all thought that all Barbie wanted to do was drive her car, fly her plane, live in her Malibu beach house, hold hands with Ken, and look pretty as possible in pink.