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Vietnam Bans Barbie Movie, Because 'Map'
Also a KPop group, also because 'map.'
If there's one thing we learned from "The West Wing," it's that Democrats need to find Republicans of goodwill who are willing to put America above partisan bickering, and ... wait, that's bullshit. But the episode where the "Organization of Cartographers for Social Equality" explained that maps can be very political, that one holds up pretty good. The Mercator projection really has encouraged "an imperialist European attitude for centuries and has created ethnic prejudices against the Third World," and anyone who says otherwise is itchin' for a fight.
Naturally enough, that brings us to the new Barbie movie directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie as the eponymous fashion doll. The trailer is ridiculously fun, but includes a detail that seems to have led the nation of Vietnam to ban distribution of the film. Namely, a cartoony world map includes a little bitty dashed line off the coast of "Asia," and Vietnam says that means the movie endorses China's territorial claims in the South China Sea. Here's the trailer; the blink-and-you'll miss it offense to Vietnam's sovereignty appears at roughly the 1-minute mark, when
Laurie Anderson BarbieKate McKinnon Barbie advises Main Character Barbie she must go to the Real World and learn how human feet operate, we think.
The movie had been scheduled to open in Vietnam July 21, but Vietnam's state media announced that the government banned the film Monday, as the AP explains:
The reports cited Vi Kien Thanh, director general of the Vietnam Cinema Department, as saying the National Film Evaluation Council made the decision. It said a map in the film shows China’s “nine-dash line,” which extends Beijing’s territorial claims far into waters that fall within areas claimed by Vietnam and other countries.
The “nine-dash line” is an arcane but sensitive issue for China and its neighbors that shows Beijing’s maritime border extending into areas claimed by other governments and encompasses most of the South China Sea. That has brought it into tense standoffs with the ASEAN nations of Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines, with Chinese fishing boats and military vessels becoming more aggressive in the disputed waters.
Here's a map, drawn by professors Mark Raymond of the University of Oklahoma and David A. Welch of the University of Waterloo, in Canada-land, for their paper "What’s Really Going On in the South China Sea?" You can see why Vietnamese officials mockingly call the area claimed by China the "cow-tongue line."
Map by Mark Raymond and David A. Welch
We should also point out that the map in the trailer only has eight dashes, so perhaps it depicts some other planet altogether.
State newspaper Vietnam Plus said that the inclusion of the squiggle in a cartoon map "distorts the truth, violates the law in general and violates sovereignty of Vietnamese territory in particular," although it remains unclear how exactly the Barbie movie could in practical terms make the international boundary dispute any worse. The UN seems unlikely to determine that China can fish in the area because International Incident Barbie said so in a one-second clip.
Still, national pride and all that; no doubt patriotic Americans would be very put out if a Saudi-owned "news" network depicted part of the United States as belonging to a foreign country.
The AP reports that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning, when asked about the matter Tuesday, did not consider life in plastic so fantastic, adding that
"China’s position on the South China Sea issue is clear and consistent.”
“We believe that the countries concerned should not link the South China Sea issue with normal cultural and people-to-people exchanges"
For what it's worth — very little, since China ignored the decision altogether — a 2016 international tribunal in the Hague found China's territorial claims to the waters had no merit, but as we just said in what's now a redundant part of this sentence, China rejected the judgment and continues to claim the area.
So far, nobody involved with the movie has commented on how the controversial squiggle came to be included, although China is notorious for having its own angry reactions to western entertainment or sportsball players who express support for Hong Kong or Taiwan. Our own very deep foreign policy analysis concludes that somebody on the production staff said "well, better include the squiggle if we want to show this in China," figuring that revenues from China would more than make up for any losses in Vietnam.
There's nothing terribly new about this, either: Vietnam previously banned the 2022 film Uncharted and 2019's Abominable for maps showing the Chinese Domination Squiggle. In fact, the scene in the latter completely forgettable kid flick led politicians in the Philippines to call for a boycott of all DreamWorks films , and Malaysia refused to distribute the movie until the scene was cut altogether.
As it happens, Vietnam also launched an investigation this week into the K-Pop group "Blackpink" because a website for its Vietnamese tour included a similarly offensive map. The tour organizer called the incident an "unfortunate misunderstanding" and pledged that the website had been updated, although the site remains down, Reuters reports.
Also, in the latest wrinkle of this developing international crisis, the Philippines is debating whether to ban Barbie as well.
How silly all these foreigns are, launching boycotts and censoring an innocent entertainment over such a nothingburger!
Meanwhile, in the Freest, Greatest, Most Liberty-est Nation on Earth, we're firing teachers and banning books over the fear that encouraging everyone to get along and accept each other's differences will lead to nine-year-olds falling into a life of depravity, or because schools might accurately depict our very real history .
Also, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) has now twice condemned the Barbie movie, tweeting yesterday that
Leftist Hollywood’s new ‘Barbie’ movie shows a map that supports Communist China’s territorial claims to the South China Sea.
Looks like ‘Barbie’ is bending to Beijing to make a quick buck.
Blackburn followed that up today by insisting that we all take her seriously , since a fun summer movie about a pop culture icon is actually causing human rights abuses, no really she is serious, if that squiggle were removed, the camps would be opened and the Uyghurs would be freed.
Hollywood & the Left are more concerned with selling films in Communist China than standing up to the regime’s human rights abuses.
The ‘Barbie’ movie’s depiction of a map endorsing Beijing’s claims to the South China Sea is legally & morally wrong and must be taken seriously.
Strangely, not a single Republican has stepped forward to demand that Mattel include realistic genitals on Ken and Barbie, since surely the dolls as they've existed for 70 years encourage androgyny.
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