Officials abruptly yanked the hit film from theaters, saying it “promotes homosexuality and other Western deviances”
She’s an icon, she’s a legend, she is the moment — and she’s been banned in yet another country. Barbie is no longer screening in Algeria, with an official telling Reuters that Greta Gerwig’s smash film “promotes homosexuality and other Western deviances” and “does not comply with Algeria’s religious and cultural beliefs.”
Local news outlet 24H Algerie first reported the ban earlier this week, with Algeria’s Ministry of Culture reportedly sending letters that decried the film for “damaging morals.” The ministry told theaters in Algiers, Oran, and Constantine to stop showing the film “immediately,” while the film’s distributor, Algeria MD Ciné, was also alerted about the ban.
Despite reported concerns about Barbie’s “damaging morals,” officials in Algeria may have missed the chance to fully squelch the movie. It’s already been in theaters there for three weeks, since premiering July 19, with 24H reporting daily sold out screenings.
Algeria is now the third country to ban Barbie, following Kuwait and Vietnam, while Lebanon is also considering a ban. Like Algeria, the qualms over the film in Kuwait and Lebanon have been moral, while the issue in Vietnam has been geopolitical.
In Kuwait, officials said Barbie contains “ideas and beliefs that are alien to the Kuwaiti society and public order,” without specifying which issues decision-makers found objectionable. Lebanon’s culture minister, Mohammad Mortada, was more upfront, saying Barbie would “promote homosexuality and sexual transformation.” Mortada sent his request to ban the movie to Lebanon’s General Security agency, which reports to a part of the government that handles censorship issues. No official decision has been made yet. (The film, of course, does so much “promote” these things as simply feature queer and trans actors like Kate McKinnon and Hari Nef.)
As for Vietnam, the country was the first to ban Barbie, and it did so over a scene that was alleged to show a map of the contested “nine-dash line” in the South China Sea. The line is a demarcation China has used to assert territorial claims in the South China Sea. Those claims are contested by other nations in the area, including Vietnam, which has banned other movies over the same issue (like the animated film Abominable and the action flick Uncharted).
The international Barbie bans — as well as some right-wing handwringing over the film here in the U.S. — have done little to dent the film’s success. It recently crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide, with Gerwig becoming the first solo female director to hit that benchmark. Of that total, $660.6 million has come from the overseas box office.
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