The Barbie film is facing a ban in Kuwait and Lebanon due to “moral and religious” concerns about promoting ideas and beliefs that are contrary to society’s values and principles. Conservative critics especially spoke out against the film’s feminist themes and critiques of patriarchy, sparking global controversy. According to the Lebanese Minister of Culture, the film is accused of promoting homosexuality, sexual transformation and deviance, which contributes to its ban in these countries.
The Barbie film was banned in two more countries, this time for “moral and religious” reasons. Released in the United States on July 21, the same day as Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie film dominated the box office, breaking $1 billion worldwide in just three weeks. The film received rave reviews from critics and audiences alike, although its feminist themes and scathing criticism of patriarchy also sparked controversy among conservatives and nations around the world.
Now that Barbie is preparing to arrive in the Middle East, other countries are trying to ban her. According to the Associated Press, the Barbie film was banned in Kuwait because the country claims it promotes “ideas and beliefs alien to Kuwaiti society and social order”. Lebanon is also trying to ban the film because, according to the country’s culture minister, Mohammad Mortada, it goes against “the moral and religious values and principles of Lebanon” and “promotes homosexuality and sexual transformation.” The minister also claims that the film “promotes sexual deviance and transsexualism.”
Prior to the Middle East, a Barbie film was banned in Vietnam for reasons unrelated to her alleged sexuality or LGBTQ+ references. The film was banned for the first time in the country due to an image that appears for only a fraction of a second and shows a real map of the world, known as the “line of nine divisions”. The demarcation line is used on Chinese maps to determine its territorial claims in the South China Sea, which are hotly contested by Vietnam. Last year, Tom Holland’s Uncharted was banned in Vietnam for the same reason.
While it doesn’t explicitly refer to sexuality or being LGBTQ+, it’s no surprise that the Barbie movie is banned in Kuwait and Lebanon. These countries have some of the strictest censorship regimes in the Middle East, such as Talk to Me, which was banned in Kuwait solely because it featured a transgender actor. Similarly, there are several LGBTQ+ members in the Barbie cast, including Kate McKinnon, Hari Nef, Alexandra Shipp, and Scott Evans. Unfortunately, these countries, where LGBTQ+ membership is considered taboo or even a sin, will not be able to see the Barbie film, which promotes the idea of inclusion and equality.
Source: Associated Press.