Entertainment /

Kuwait Bans the Barbie Movie

A government spokesperson said the film 'promulgates ideas and beliefs that are alien to Kuwaiti society and public order'

A second country will now prohibit screenings of Barbie from Warner Bros.

Kuwait banned the film, which stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, on cultural and ethical grounds this week. The government said the prohibition on Barbie will protect “public ethics and social traditions.”

A spokesman for the Kuwaiti Ministry of Information said in a statement on Aug. 9 that the movie “promulgates ideas and beliefs that are alien to Kuwaiti society and public order.”

“While deciding on any foreign movie, the committee usually orders censoring of scenes that run counter to public ethics,” said Undersecretary of the Ministry for Press and Publication Lafy Al-Subei’e, per KUNA. “But [if] a film carries alien concepts, message or unacceptable behavior usually, the committee decides to bar the stuff in question as a whole.”

The Kuwait government also banned screenings of Talk to Me, an Australian supernatural horror film. 

Lebanese Culture Minister Mohammad Mortada said he had asked the government to “take all necessary measures to ban showing” of the movies because it “promotes homosexuality and transsexuality … supports rejecting a father’s guardianship, undermines and ridicules the role of the mother, and questions the necessity of marriage and having a family,” per Aljazeera.

The movie was set to begin screening in Lebanon on Aug. 31. It will still be shown in other Middle Eastern countries – including United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain. 

Vietnam banned Barbie in early July due to a debate over a cartoonish map. The world map, which features bright colors and inaccurate continents, had a dashed line in the shape of a backward ‘S’ near Asia. The line was seen as an acknowledgment of the nine-dash-line, a demarcation used by the Chinese government to claim approximately 1,200 miles of the South China Sea. Vietnam and other neighboring nations already claim some of the island encircled by the border and have long objected to Beijing’s maps. 

The Hague’s international arbitration court ruled in 2016 that China’s claim to the area was baseless.

The Philippines, which also objected to the movie’s placement of the dashed line, ultimately permitted screenings of the movie provided the controversial line was blurred.

“The map portrayed the route of the make-believe journey of Barbie from Barbie Land to the ‘real world,’ as an integral part of the story,” said the Philippines’ Movie and Television Review and Classification Board. “Rest assured that the Board has exhausted all possible resources in arriving at this decision as we have not hesitated in the past to sanction filmmakers/ producers/ distributors for exhibiting the fictitious ‘nine-dash line’ in their materials.”

Barbie has earned over $1 billion in ticket sales globally since its July 21 premiere – including about $459 million domestically and $572 million internationally. 

According to Forbes:

In its first two weeks, Barbie has surpassed Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which has made $845 million worldwide, including $359 million domestically, as well as Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania ($476 million worldwide, $214.5 million domestically), Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse ($683 million worldwide, $379 million domestically), Disney’s The Little Mermaid ($564 million worldwide, $297 million domestically) and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One ($451 million worldwide, $142 million domestically).

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