Texas Senator Ted Cruz defended his criticism of the Barbie movie and his belief that the film promotes the Chinese Communist Party’s ideology.
Cruz denounced the Warner Bros film in early July after the trailer revealed an abstract world map that included a dashed line that many believe to be an acknowledgment of the nine-dash-line, a disputed demarcation Beijing uses to claim authority over roughly 1,200 miles of the South China Sea.
While speaking with The Daily Signal over the weekend, the senator reiterated the need to draw attention to Chinese influence in Hollywood.
“The press likes to mock this and be like, ‘Oh, come on, why are you talking about something like Barbie?’” said Cruz. “Because Hollywood letting the Chinese communists dictate what is in American films is a real threat, and we need to call them out.”
“This is Chinese communist propaganda in which the Chinese are asserting sovereignty over the entirety of the South China Sea,” he added. “And they don’t have any right to it under international law, but they are trying to take it away from their neighbors there.”
.@tedcruz: "The press likes to mock this and be like, 'Oh, come on, why are you talking about something like Barbie?' Because Hollywood letting the Chinese communists dictate what is in American films is a real threat, and we need to call them out." pic.twitter.com/euc8zVXiyZ
— Samantha Aschieris (Renck) (@samantharenck) July 16, 2023
In the movie, Margot Robbie’s Barbie stands in front of a colorful but inaccurate world map with abstractly drawn continents. The contentious dashed line — comprised of eight marks resembling a backward “S” — can be seen toward the bottom of a land mass labeled Asia. Other dashed lines appear in other parts of the illustrated map. The actual nine-dash line is “U” shaped. Still, the resemblance outraged other nations in the South China Sea that claim territory that the nine-dash line attributes to China.
Screenings of the movie were banned in Vietnam, which neighbors China across the South China Sea, because of the line. Vietnam has banned other movies – including the 2019 DreamWorks film Abominable and the 2022 Sony Pictures film Uncharted – for using maps that had clear depictions of the nine-dash line. The Vietnamese government also required a shot of a designer bag with a map that included the line to be removed from Crazy Rich Asians in order to be screened in 2018.
The Philippines, which also objects to China’s claim to the South China Sea, ultimately ruled the map scene in Barbie must be removed before being screened. The nation’s Movie and Television Review and Classification Board called the map “cartoonish” and did not have a “clear nor outright depiction” of the nine-dash line.
“Instead, 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,” the board said in a statement on July 12. “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.”
Following a complaint brought by the Philipines, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hauge ruled in 2016 that China’s claims to the South China Sea were baseless.
Warner Bros. had denied the line on Barbie’s map is the nine-dash line, describing the image as a “child-like crayon drawing.”
“The doodles depict Barbie’s make-believe journey from Barbie Land to the ‘real world,'” the company told Variety on July 6. “It was not intended to make any type of statement.”