Following days of uncertainty, the MTRCB gave the Barbie movie permission to open the Dreamhouse doors for Filipino moviegoers.
To both cinephiles and casual moviegoers, July 2023 is a big month for movies. The newest Mission: Impossible film, Christopher Nolan’s next film, Oppenheimer, and the long-awaited Barbie movie are all set to screen in the month. Yet, it seemed as if one of those films wouldn’t get to see the light of day in the Philippines when Barbie landed in hot water due to reportedly featuring the controversial nine-dash line, which China uses to dictate its territory in the West Philippine Sea that is disputed by quite a few countries in the region.
One of those nations, Vietnam, took the extraordinary step of banning Barbie from screening in the country for featuring it in a scene. Soon, worry started to spread among local film fans that Barbie was going to get banned in the Philippines. After all, the MTRCB is no stranger to banning Hollywood movies for featuring the nine-dash line. But after a few days, it seems as if the controversy was all for not as the MTRCB released a statement giving the go signal for Barbie to screen in the Philippines (FYI, Barbie and Oppenheimer are both showing in the country on July 19, so the Barbieheimer double feature is still possible).
WEIRD BARBIE’S MAP
Now, if you’re curious as to which scene caused all this drama over the past week, Warner Bros. released an image of the scene in question which sees Margot Robbie’s Barbie go to Weird Barbie’s (Kate McKinnon) house. In one shot, it shows Barbie standing in front of a “world map” drawn by Weird Barbie, with the Asia section of the map featuring dashes on the side of the continent, supposedly symbolizing the nine-dash line. However, upon further inspection, it’s only eight dashes, and, according to WB, the line was not meant to be a realistic portrayal of the real world nor make a political statement.
That explanation was good enough for the MTRCB as they said in their statement, “Considering the context by which the cartoonish map of the character “Weird Barbie” was portrayed in the film, the Review Committee is convinced that the contentious scene does not depict the “nine-dash line.” They added that the dashes related more to plot purposes that dealt with Barbie’s journey to the real world. Though, the MTRCB did reiterate that they will not hesitate to ban or sanction films for featuring the actual nine-dash line in the future.
BARBIE GOES TO THE PHILIPPINES, OFFICIALLY
So, now that Barbiemania is back on and the short-lived drama is finally over, what can we learn from this? Fiction, such as movies, can indeed be powerful tools for conversation-starters. And despite what some may say, the power of movies to dictate trends and the status quo, whether it’s by what it and what it doesn’t say, is alive and well. But at the end of the day, let movies be movies as a form of entertainment that can start discussions.
They may (or not) say certain things, but how we process and deal with them is the more important question. And TBH, the moment just gave Barbie even more publicity for what is an already hyped film. Whether or not you want to see the movie is up to you, just remember that you’re watching a work of fiction.
What are your thoughts on this Barbie fiasco?