Warner Bros. responds to ‘Barbie’ ban in Vietnam over controversial map: It’s a ‘child-like crayon drawing’

The politics of Barbie Land just got a lot more real.

After the Greta Gerwig-directed film was banned in Vietnam and the Philippines ahead of its July 21 release date, a Warner Bros. spokesperson responded to claims that a map featured in the trailer features the “nine-dash line.” , which indicates China’s territorial claims over the South China Sea in areas that Vietnam claims deny its sovereignty.

“The map in Barbie Land is a child-like crayon drawing,” the spokesperson said Variety. “The doodles depict Barbie’s imaginary journey from Barbie Land to the ‘real world’. She didn’t intend to make any kind of statement.

Vi Kien Thanh, director general of the Vietnam Film Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, announced on July 3 that “Barbie” will not be allowed to be screened commercially in the country, as decided by the National Film Evaluation Council .

“We are not licensing the Vietnamese release of the American film ‘Barbie’ because it contains the offending image of the nine-dash line,” state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper said, quoting Thanh’s statement.

This is not the first time that a representation of the “nine-dash line” has proved a problem for film and television projects in Vietnam. A United Nations arbitration ruled against the validity of the “nine-dash line” in 2016, but China has said it does not recognize the decision. Previous films such as ‘Abominable’ and ‘Uncharted’ were similarly banned in Vietnam for the same geographical reason, and series such as ‘Madam Secretary’, ‘Pine Gap’ and ‘Put Your Head On My Shoulder’ were also criticized by the Vietnam.

“Barbie” instead leaned into the fantastical elements of living a plastic life, emphasizing abstract philosophies over politics. For all the details on “Barbie”, click here. The film opens in theaters on Friday 21 July.